Tornadoes rip through Minnesota; 3 dead, dozens injured.
Tornadoes hit Minnesota on Thursday. Three people are reported dead while dozens were injured by the twisters.
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Freeborn County administrator John Kluever said eight homes were destroyed near Geneva, but said that number might grow as damage was assessed by daylight. Fourteen people were treated at Albert Lea Medical Center for injuries. Kluever said the storms damaged grain bins, a hog feedlot and a cattle feedlot. Several hundred hogs and a few dozen cattle were being rounded up Friday, he said.Skip to next paragraph
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Still, Freeborn County Sheriff's chief deputy Gene Arnold said the property damage could have been much worse.
"We're very fortunate that it did not hit a high-population area," Arnold said.
Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden said sirens gave plenty of warning in his town, where the National Weather Service said a tornado struck around 5 p.m. Wolden said many people were there for an all-school reunion.
Officials said 34 people were treated at Wadena's hospital for storm-related injuries, but as of Friday morning only one remained hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening. Nursing supervisor Kathy Kleen said many residents were at the hospital's pharmacy first thing Friday to replace prescription drugs they lost in the storm.
Crews cleared debris and lumber from streets Friday morning. Residents were escorted to their homes to survey damage and gather important belongings, but officials said cleanup would probably not get into full swing until Saturday.
Crews worked overnight to control dozens of gas leaks, and all were contained by Friday morning. Wadena's community pool was destroyed, the high school "extremely busted up" and the community center beyond repair, Wolden said.
His wife, Lori Wolden, said houses were "half-gone" and "there's no trees" in the southwest part of the town, which was barricaded after the storm.
Patty Jones was evacuated from her apartment because of a gas leak and walked around Wadena before taking shelter at the local armory.
"It's terrible. It's whacked out. Nothing's left in one part of town," Jones said.
The Red Cross set up a shelter at the local armory in Wadena and another in Albert Lea.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who activated about 70 National Guard members to help with the response, planned to tour the affected areas later Friday.
State climatologist Greg Spoden said it would take the weather service days to verify tornado reports. He cautioned that reports of the state's biggest outbreak of tornadoes could be overblown because improvements in technology and communications mean more tornadoes are reported now than ever before.
Still, Spoden said, it was "a very, very extensive outbreak."
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