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A church on the southwest side of Dickinson was destroyed by a tornado Wednesday, though a drumset seems to have made it through relatively intact. Photo by Lisa Call - Dickinson Press.

Dickinson tornado damage estimated at $20 million

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The damage caused by a tornado that ripped through Dickinson on Wednesday is estimated at more than $20 million, Mayor Dennis Johnson said.

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"I wouldn't be surprised if it was higher," Johnson said at a press conference Saturday in Dickinson. "There are about 450 structures that we know that were damaged."

About 50 of those structures are deemed at, or close to, 100 percent damaged, and 71 had significant damage, Johnson said, of new estimates released Saturday. He added about 360 had as much as 30 percent damage.

Officials, who first thought power would be restored by Friday night, anticipated having all power restored Saturday to south Dickinson, Johnson said.

"It doesn't mean every home is hooked up because if there's damage to the home, then the homeowner has to arrange for an electrical contractor to come in and make sure things are good there and then they can make a connecion," Johnson said.

Brent Pringle, Stark County interim emergency manager, said a command trailer has been set up in the parking lot of what was formerly Albertson's. Volunteers can register there. Counseling services and free tetanus shots are also available there.

Homeowners need to sign waivers before volunteers can enter their property, Pringle said. He said if possible, homeowners can go to the command center to sign waivers.

Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, with the North Dakota Army National Guard, expected about 160 soldiers Saturday in Dickinson.

"It's really critical that people get the debris into the street, because we can not go on to private property," Sprynczynatyk said. "Our understanding is that hopefully by Sunday evening, we should pretty much have the debris removal mission completed."

He expects to pull troops out of the south side of Dickinson by daybreak today, but said they will stay longer if needed. Sprynczynatyk also expects normal entry to the south side by today.

Local law enforcement will step up patrol in that area when troops are pulled out, said Shawn Kessel, city administrator.

Johnson said city crews and private contractors are also helping with debris removal.

"It really is amazing the amount of progress that's been made in really just a matter of a few hours," Johnson said. "North Dakotans are very resilient. They went to work almost immediately."

Pringle said tarps and plastic sheeting are needed the most, and people can donate these and other items at the city shop on West Broadway. Particle board is being given out at the City Shop, as well, Kessel said.

A shelter is set up at Hillside Baptist Church, and Pringle said five people stayed there Friday evening.

Ed Conley, Federal Emergency Management Agency external affairs director, said 34 families visited the disaster recovery center Friday at the Prairie Hills Mall in Dickinson. He added 51 families affected by the tornado have registered for FEMA aid.

The deadline to register is Aug. 10, Conley said. He said those who are eligible will begin to receive aid seven to 10 days after registering.

"Even if it doesn't look like there's much damage there, the wiring can have been twisted or pulled and that could show up over two years later," Johnson said, adding those who register, will be covered by FEMA for years down the road.

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