Picking Up The Pieces

MISSION HILL — The severe thunderstorm that swept through the Yankton area the morning of June 11 left a lot of damage in its wake — damage with which some area residents and businesses are still grappling.

One of those businesses is the Farmers Elevator Co. of Mission Hill.

"We lost approximately one-third of our main grain storage," said elevator manager Jay Cutts. "We'll have to replace all our support equipment and replace at least three bins if we want to be back up to the same storage capacity that we were before."

The elevator consists of five 50,000-bushel bins and several smaller bins. During the storm, two of the large bins were ripped off their foundations, leaving them completely destroyed.

Another bin was dented when one of the other bins crashed into it, and two smaller bulk bins that had yet to be installed were blown into the city park, which is next to the elevator.

Cutts said the estimated cost of replacing the three large bins is $250,000.

"Hopefully we can get them ordered and get them here in time for the fall harvest," he said.

Cutts was alerted to the damage at "about 2:30 a.m." that day, he said.

"One of my neighbors was out looking around after the wind came through, and he called me and said there was a sheriff down here on the highway with his lights flashing," Cutts said.

The sheriff was on the scene because fallen branches and portions of the grain bins had blocked the road leading into town.

At the time of the storm, Yankton County Emergency Management Director Jeremy Dangel had said the heaviest damage was sustained in a line that began just north of Yankton and made its way east into the Mission Hill and Volin area before moving on to Wakonda.

Despite the heavy damages sustained in the storm, officials say there were no tornadoes, Dangel had said.

The recorded rain total at Yankton Middle School was 1.83 inches.

For his part, Cutts was unaware of just how severe the storm was until he arrived at the elevator that morning.

"At 2:30 in the morning you can't see a whole lot," he said, laughing. "But where I live — about a mile south of town — it was just a storm with a little bit of wind. We didn't lose any branches or anything down at our house. So I didn't really anticipate anything of that magnitude when I drove up there. But when I got there, I said, 'Oh, well, that was a little windier than I thought."

Cutts and a local contractor cleaned up most of the damage that Friday.

Although the outcome of the storm wasn't good, it could have been much worse depending on what time of year the storm struck.

"It won't affect us at all during the summer," Cutts said. "We're basically just delivering grain during the summertime. It'll affect us more this fall when we go to harvest time and (need) enough storage for our local customers. …

"It's a lot better that it hit now than in the fall, because if it hit in the fall, we would have no chance to rebuild at all. But now we do have some time to make a few plans," he said.

This was not the first time the elevator sustained severe damage in a summer storm.

"It was pretty close to 20 years ago from the date of the storm that they lost three bins in the same area," Cutts said. "They blew to the north rather than to the east last time. You could basically say they lost all four bins last time because the other one was damaged, and the roof was torn off of it."

Cutts said that his current focus is on getting the elevator back to its original capacity in time for the fall harvest.

"Putting the equipment up won't take that long — probably about a week per bin," he said. "So that's not a real long process. It's the estimates and planning and getting it here that takes a long time."
Nathan Johnson contributed to this report.

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