Weather Forecast


Leota family left with each other and phone

LEOTA --On Thursday, Lance Van Dyke looked at the farm he has known since 1948. With a soft voice, he said at first it was hard looking at what the tornado did to the century-old farmstead.

"I've spent a lifetime here," he said. "You spend time building it and working with it."

Unable to finish his thoughts, Lance Van Dyke said his son, Curt, who has been living on the farm for seven years, has even more memories of hard work.

"We planted all the trees around 1965, and Curt would have to mulch them and keep them clean," Lance Van Dyke said. "I kept telling him, 'This would be more of a benefit for you.'"

Curt Van Dyke said he spent almost two days this spring cleaning the same grove and trimming the same trees he planted so long ago. Today, not many of the close knit trees are left standing. Seven of Van Dykes' farm buildings are wrapped in the trees. They also lost 370 Holstein heifers.

Despite the loss of livestock, Curt and Beth Van Dyke said they are lucky. They have clothes, furniture and each other.

Beth Van Dyke said the couple's 9-year-old son, Kyle, was outside when he saw Tuesday evening's tornado coming. Not sure what it was, he ran into the house and alerted his mother.

"I barely got the cellar door shut before it hit," she recalled.

Curt Van Dyke said he was in Edgerton unaware of the storm. When he got home, he had trouble getting to the barn, which is located one mile northeast of Leota, because of the traffic.

While standing flabbergasted at what he saw, he said the telephone rang.

"Did you get any damage?" the caller asked. "Only the phone works" was all Curt Van Dyke could say.

On Thursday, neighbors and relatives were helping clean up what the tornado left. The remaining cattle were loaded and taken to the Pipestone sales barn. Twenty-five were missing. Curt Van Dyke said many of the cattle were injured and bruised. About 97 of the 100 dead had to be shot due to the extent of their injuries. Renderers hauled away the dead cattle and 50 dead hogs Thursday.

Van Dyke's large farrowing barn was damaged during the heavy winds that accompanied the second wave of tornadoes at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. The gusts knocked the barn off its foundation. The cattle barn, machine shed, three stave-silos, two hog sheds, grain bins and a garage were scattered throughout the grove and neighboring cornfields. The house and farrowing barn were the only buildings left standing.

Van Dyke said about 100 acres of the 800 acres he farms also were destroyed.