Austin Marks 10-Year Anniversary of Devastating Tornado

June 17, 2019 10:54 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- It left a trail of damaged homes and businesses, and tore up trees by the hundreds.

But through it all, no one was seriously injured.


And Monday, we marked an anniversary.

"It's a stamp on your whole life. I don't think I'll ever forget it," Justin Hanson said.

It was a day that began with the feeling that something ominous was building. By the end of the day, the landscape of Austin would be changed forever. It was June 17, 2009.

"And the trees are like sideways and you're walking through there and there's like bird nests here, and it was kind of creepy,” Jill DeMoss said, recounting her walk to work.

It was 10 years ago that a tornado cut a swath of destruction across the north side of Austin.

"We went out to check the window and it was already there," Hanson said. He was attending a meeting in the Ruby Rupner auditorium at the Hormel Nature Center.

It was later determined to be an EF-2 tornado, and while the peak wind gust isn't known, an EF-2 would be in the range of 111 to 135 miles an hour.

"The clouds were spinning vertically in front of us," Hanson said.

The tornado was 120 yards wide and was on the ground for 10 miles.

"A minute feels truly like an hour when the thing is right on top of you, you know," Hanson said.

The storm caused heavy damage at Todd Park and the Hormel Nature Center.

"You had to walk through the trees to even get out here and see all the damage, and the trees that were down, and the building that got hit, the roof ripped off it, and we had to look for critters because the snakes got loose," said DeMoss, who works at the Nature Center.

“Five minutes earlier everything was fine. It's really a very short amount of time that you walk outside and all of these trees, and the roof's gone," Hanson added.

“It was kind of awful to see how much damage was done, that nature's that powerful," DeMoss said.


Dan Conradt

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