Homes gone in LeotaLEOTA — When Louise DeBoer emerged from her Leota home about 5 p.m. Tuesday, she immediately looked toward the east, at the farm where her sister, her niece and their families lived.
By: Daily Globe, Worthington Daily Globe
Editor’s note: This is one of the original stories that ran in the June 17, 1992, Daily Globe.
LEOTA — When Louise DeBoer emerged from her Leota home about 5 p.m. Tuesday, she immediately looked toward the east, at the farm where her sister, her niece and their families lived.
All she saw were the stripped and twisted remnants of a grove of trees.
The house had vanished where Harvard “Bud” and Clara Rozeboom lived and where their daughter and son-in-law, Sharon and Dave Kuik, lived with their three children.
The semitrailer rig Dave Kuik drove in his burgeoning trucking business had been ripped apart and the trailer tossed 150 yards across the road into a field. The tractor remained on the yard, while the metal skin was wrapped around the remnants of trees.
The Rozebooms and the Kuiks —including Paula, Brent and Jarrod —were all transported by ambulance or private car to medical facilities. Brent Kuik had been injured and Clara Rozeboom was in shock, DeBoer reported.
Nick DeBoer, Louise DeBoer’s brother-in-law, was injured when the motorcycle he was driving near the Rozeboom place struck electric wires on the road.
Bud Rozeboom alerted his wife the tornado was coming and she immediately called Sharon.
“Clara called to Sharon to get down in the basement,” Louise DeBoer said. “Sharon didn’t even know it was coming.”
Looking at what remained of the Rozeboom and Kuik farms, she added, “You cannot tell any resemblance. It just strips you of all your earthly possessions. I’m thankful they lived through it.”
Despite the loss of all outbuildings and a farmhouse left twisted and askew, the Arlyn and Donna DeKam family could also be thankful. Their 12-year-old daughter, Bridget, was alone in the house when the tornado struck shortly before 5 p.m.
Bridget DeKam’s older sister, Erica, was tremulous minutes later as she contemplated what could have happened.
“We got home from a ballgame and were supposed to go to Sioux Falls,” she said, hugging a baby doll to her chest and blinking back tears. “I tried to call so many times. I kept getting a busy signal so I came over here.”
Pigeons and exotic chickens picked their way over the DeKam yard. Their buildings were lost in the tornado’s blast, along with a shelter for peacocks, another for pheasants, a garage and several other buildings.
“I guess it shows how powerful God is, and we have to trust him to take care of us,” Erica DeKam said.
Pam Mouw, 18, was in the chicken coop doing chores when the tornado struck. Her parents, Gordon and Elaine Mouw, were in their house.
“The doors were open, and it was blowing,” Pam Mouw said. “I thought if I ran outside, I’d get cremated. So I stayed inside, and when it started shifting over, I ran with it.”
All the buildings except for the Mouw house were destroyed by the tornado. A grill sitting on her front porch was untouched while the cover had vanished, Elaine Mouw pointed out. The picnic table disappeared, while a garage collapsed around the family car.
An older car was covered with hay, but untouched, Elaine Mouw noted wryly.
“They say it’s still before a tornado, but it wasn’t here,” she said. “It was blowing.”
The Curtis and Beth Van Dyke farm near Leota was also leveled. Neighbors reported cattle had been injured by flying boards and had to be shot.