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Chandler 'absolute devastation'

Editor's note: This is one of the original stories that ran in the June 18, 1992, edition of the Daily Globe.

CHANDLER -- A ravine north of Chandler Wednesday contained a red bowling ball with deep gashes. There also was a car crushed beyond recognition. At 5 p.m. Tuesday the vehicle had been parked one-half mile south of its final resting place.

"This is absolute devastation," Lt. Gov. Joanell Dyrstad said after flying in and walking through Chandler Wednesday afternoon. "I have never seen such widespread destruction as southern Minnesota experienced last night."

Minnesota State Trooper DuWayne Oberloh, Worthington, said he had seen similar destruction --but only following the end of World War II.

"When I saw the west end of Chandler this morning, the atomic bomb blast came to mind," he said.

A nearly half-mile wide path of destruction runs from Leota through Chandler to Lake Wilson. Local National Guard units were dispatched Tuesday evening to Chandler and Lake Wilson to help residents sift through debris.

While residents of all three communities lost homes and knew friends and neighbors that were injured, there were no deaths.

"There is something to be learned from this," said Huisken Meat Center Plant Manager Bob Huisken, whose plant in Chandler was seriously damaged. "God showed us his power and love for us."

At 5:05 p.m. Tuesday, The Chandler Volunteer Fire Department sent spotters south and west of town to watch for a reported tornado six miles southwest at Leota.

"We spotted it approximately four miles south of town and the siren was sounded," said assistant fire chief Lonnie Clark. "It took about 10 minutes after the siren sounded for it to arrive, but it seemed like a blink of the eye and it was upon us."

Doris Carda and her husband, Laddie, who have lived on a hill on the west side of Chandler for 27 years, looked out their south window when the alarm went off.

"The valley was black, it was just like it was night. We didn't know if it was blowing dirt or a tornado," said Doris. "Then we heard that unmistakable rumbling sound and ran to the basement."

The Cardas hid under a basement workbench while the home they had just paid off last year was ripped from its foundation and blown to pieces.

"When we came up, we looked in all directions and we both said 'it's (Chandler) gone," stated Doris. "That siren saved us."

According to Clark, the siren system received routine repair work just four days ago.

The tornado sirens sounded at approximately 5:40 p.m. Tuesday in Lake Wilson.

What ensued was terrifying for residents of the Murray County community.

"I saw it headed for the lake on the east side of town, but then it appeared to stop, head west and then north," Judy Gilbertson said.

She and her husband, Neal, saw their home leveled, along with those of two neighbors, on the southwest corner of town.

Gilbertson was sifting through a pile of household belongings Wednesday, trying to determine what to save and discard.

"Do you know we cannot find one large piece of furniture? It just vanished," she said. "Where does one start to rebuild?"

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