Storm creates swath of destruction in county

Christian Begeman of Sioux Falls shared this photo with the Enterprise of the severe thunderstorm as it passed over Flandreau around 7:00 p.m. on Monday, July 20. Begeman took the photo as he was approaching Flandreau on State Hwy 13 from the south. The warned thunderstorm produced strong downburst winds and was responsible for a strip of hail which caused considerable damage to crops in the northwest part of Moody County.

Hail, rain and strong winds swept through a portion of Moody County recently, destroying crops and damaging buildings.
The July 20 evening storm, which started a couple miles south of the Ward exit, beat on crops and swept southeast toward Flandreau where it damaged the roof of one business.
Farmer Brendan Sheppard had hail damage on a 250-acre bean field northwest of town, with some of the leaves stripped off the plants and the stalks tore up. He estimates half of the field was damaged.
“There was just a line of hail a half-mile wide and a couple miles long where it was really bad. We had a bean field in the center of that,” he said.
Sheppard said he will know more in a couple weeks about whether some of the field will bounce back.
“Beans, this time of year, take it worse,” he said, compared to corn damage. “You just let it go and see how it recovers. We’ll just harvest what we get.”
Nearby, Jason Kontz had damage in four of his bean fields, also totaling about 250 acres. His house was spared when the hail hit about a quarter of a mile south of where he lives. By the time he got to the fields 15 minutes later, the piles of hail showed stones about the size of marbles.
“Some fields, it may have stripped 30 to 40 percent. My worst fields are as much as 75 to 80 percent stripped,” he said. Some stalks are bruised as well. He is going to assess the damage in another week to try and decide if the fields will make it to harvest.
“I think the worst thing was the wind was blowing so hard,” he said of the damage.
During their decades of farming, neither Sheppard nor Kontz have seen the kind of damage this storm brought.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had hail damage to this extreme,” said Kontz, 42.
Kontz’s brother, Brad Kontz, said he didn’t have near as much damage on his fields in the area, but he saw the storm drop hail.
“It was hard to tell how big it was because it was coming sideways,” he said.
While bean fields were destroyed, corn received damage as well. For miles, cornstalks on the east sides of the road were stripped and laying down several rows in, indicating the direction of the strong winds.
Corn can come back, but it depends on the stage of development and its root system, crop experts said. If the pollen made it to the silks, it might have a chance of maturing, for example.
 At Gene Johnson’s farm on 228th Street, two towering trees that have always shaded his house broke off and landed on his roof, punching two holes that needed patching, and puckering up shingles.
Several neighbors brought equipment and helped on Tuesday to lift the trees off and take them away so the roof could be patched.
“It makes you feel you live in a good community when you get help like that,” he said.
Johnson’s crops escaped damage except for those on his home quarter where oats were shelled out and the corn and beans got hammered.
In Flandreau, an inch and a quarter of rain fell quickly, accompanied by strong winds.
At Ramsdell F&M, winds were clocked at 56 miles an hour, until the rubber roof blew off and got stuck in the wind meter. The roof at the front area of the building was flapping like a kite and ended up on the ground when Manager Kari Burggraff happened to drive by.
“It came unattached from the edge and ripped the wood apart, and it was laying over the side of the building,” she said.
Inside, water was pouring out of light fixtures and a fairly newly remodeled office area was damaged. The ceiling also started to fall, and with help, everything was moved to the back of the building, where the business will operate until a new roof can be constructed. It could take a couple of months while the company waits for rafters, she said. For now, the rubber liner is back on and patched.
“We’re just going to stay put in the back here,” she said.



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