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Campers Recall Sunday’s Violent Storm

August 10, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

This is a map of the Lewis & Clark Lake west of Yankton, S.D., where a storm Sunday night tossed campers staying at the Cottonwood Campground, located at the east end (right side of lake). Yankton is the red blotch at right. Red dots mark campgrounds located on the lake.

People are picking up the pieces after a dangerous thunderstorm rolled through South Dakota Sunday night, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Near Yankton, trees snapped like toothpicks, and campers flipped with people still inside, KELO-TV, Sioux Falls, reported.

Three campgrounds near the Gavins Point Dam, which stands on the Missouri River west of Yankton,  were slammed head on with straight-line winds of up to 70 mph. Of the hundreds of people there Sunday night, two were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and countless others received scratches and bruises from the storm. One Iowa family says they’re just happy no one was seriously hurt, especially when their campers overturned with their children still inside.

Without warning, the winds picked up fast.

“All of a sudden, my husband says, ‘Denise, go to their campground tell them to take cover.’ He went to our campground to get the girls,” Denise Schreier said.

Schreier ran to get her 4-year-old son in one camper, while her husband, Paul, ran to warn their daughter and her friend in a separate one. But neither of them made it in time.

“Carla and her son got out, Brian went to grab his dogs and my son and the camper just flipped over, rolled twice right in front of me. I darted behind a tree our camper went over,” Denise said.

“As soon as my dad reached for the door, we saw him out the window, it flipped. I went flying and the mattress was on me, and I blacked out,” Tawney Schreier said.

Thirteen-year-old Tawney and her 12-year-old friend, Melea Nielsen, say it happened so fast and without warning. When Tawney came to, she called 911.

“Things were breaking when we were trying to stand on them from all the water leaking in,” Tawney said.

And it’s hard to believe that just feet away, her little brother was tossed in this camper that landed with the door to the ground. Their friend inside broke a window and climbed out, with Brayden and his two pets. Brayden received scratches on his arm and their friend a bump on the head. Everyone is just happy no one was seriously injured.

“Things can be replaced, and we’re glad everybody’s OK,” Denise said.

Crews at Cottonwood campground are also trying to lift trees off of campers.

Some of the trees that were damaged Sunday night were almost 100 feet tall and several decades old.

Among the hundreds of people that were staying at these campgrounds, only about two dozen campers were overturned. For the Schreier family, it’s proof of Mother Nature’s strength and a sign that lives can change in an instant.

“Last night, it was really hard to go to sleep because you could see all the flashbacks, of everything broken around you,” Tawney said.

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