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Faribault Residents Left to Clean Up After EF2 Tornado

September 21, 2018 09:52 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- A tornadic thunderstorm caused significant damage in parts of Rice County Thursday night, including in Faribault, where planes at the city's airport were picked up and turned upside down by the strong winds. The National Weather Service has confirmed an EF2 tornado hit the city at 110 mph.
 
Mangled sheets of metal from numerous airport hangars were wrapped around fence posts and trees on the city's northwest side, while on the south side of town, residents were left to clean up numerous downed trees, some of which fell on homes and vehicles.
 
Despite the likely severe weather risk Thursday evening, Kasson resident Ryan Fay, who works as a mechanic at Quality Aviation at the Faribault airport, said the day began as usual.
 
"(I) started at 6 in the morning and left about 4 o'clock," he recalled.
 
Later that night while at his son's football practice, Fay received a number of phone calls and text messages telling him about the fast-moving storms in the area. At first, he wasn't sure of the extent of the damage. Later on, a co-worker who lived in the area told him just how bad the storm had been.
 
Fay raced from Kasson to Faribault and saw a scene he likely won't forget. The hangar he worked in was completely destroyed; several planes and a helicopter sat in the rubble.
 
Luckily, first responders were quick to arrive.
 
"Thankfully we have fire training on Thursday nights, so we had a station full of firefighters," Faribault Fire Chief Dustin Dienst said. "We heard it coming, we got good warning." 
 
Despite the sheer amount of damage, Dienst said no injuries were reported due to the storms, freeing them to respond to more than 100 calls for downed trees and other damage.
 
As the cleanup process begins, Dienst said he was heartened to see so many people offering to help, even though the scope of the work will require more than just manpower.
 
"It's refreshing and it's heartbreaking to tell them we've got enough food, we've got enough water, we've got enough help at this time because everybody wants to help and you wish you had something for them to do," he said.
 
And as for Fay and Quality Aviation, the recovery process will likely be slow.
 
"(We're) just try(ing) to get back to doing business as much as we can," he said. "I would guess at least a year, I mean it's getting close to fall and I don't know how quick you can get it cleaned up and get a new hangar built."
 

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