Watford City, ND (KEYZ) The rush to clean up and clear debris from Tuesday’s tornado in the Prairie View RV park is tempered by sadness due to the loss of a week old baby, pulled from the rubble of his parents mobile home, with serious head trauma. McKenzie County Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger says he has been consoling the deputy who had personally pulled the infant from the debris.
“I have been talking to my deputy and he’s been doing ok, but he was trying everything he could to help save that infant, used all his training, yet obviously it was God’s will to take him back home, but my deepest condolences go out to that family,” says Sheriff Schwartzenberger. A Go Fund me account has been set up for the parents, to help pay for medical and now funeral arrangements for the boy, who died yesterday afternoon.
Today, Sheriff Schwartzenberger is asking for any able bodied volunteer who can help to head on down to the Civic Center and sign up. (Schwartzenberger in left of above photo with North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum)
“The biggest need here today is manpower, picking up after this storm. Picking up all the debris that is here. We have equipment that is on scene, including excavators and loaders and side dump trucks that are ready to go. We’ve got operators organized to get that going, what we need is people here to help hand pick stuff out of the grass and rubble,” says Schwartzenberger.
The Sheriff says prospective volunteers should make their way to the Civic Center, where there is a volunteer intake. “Then they’ll send you down here, where we will just have you sign a liability waiver and then give you an assignment,” he says. Schwartzenberger says a total of 122 RV’s, trailers and mobile homes were destroyed, another 200 were damaged to one degree or another.
Gov. Doug Burgum has instructed the North Dakota Department of Human Services to work with Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters and other partner agencies to support McKenzie County emergency management as they work to meet the food and shelter needs of affected individuals. He surveyed the damage Tuesday afternoon, along with Sheriff Schwartzenberger and Lt Governor Brent Sanford.
Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford at Prairie View
Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, a Watford City native who was mayor of the city from 2010 to 2016, arrived there just before noon and has been surveying the damage and meeting with local officials and displaced residents. “The extent of the damage here is devastating and mindboggling, with RVs utterly flattened and destroyed. Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured and displaced by this tornado,” Sanford said. “Fortunately, the community of Watford City is doing an amazing job offering assistance, providing food and water and finding shelter for those displaced. It will take a massive effort to clean up and recover from this tornado, and the state stands ready to help any way we can.”
The state Department of Emergency Services also is monitoring the situation and coordinating response efforts with the American Red Cross and local officials. The North Dakota Highway Patrol was part of the initial response, and the Department of Health has been in contact with the local public health unit and hospital.