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Castlewood residents sifting through damage from devastating tornado

The small northeastern South Dakota town of Castlewood — the hometown of Gov. Kristi Noem — was left devastated after a tornado ripped through it Thursday evening.

The tornado went through the middle of town, badly damaging the school and many houses and other buildings in the process. Officials were tightly controlling access to the city Friday morning as recovery and cleanup efforts began. Early reports indicated nobody was killed or severely injured by the tornado.

The tornado was spawned by a massive line of storms that tore across eastern South Dakota. The National Weather Service said the system qualified as a derecho, with a swath of damage at least 60 miles wide and 400 miles long.

Caden Eng had just returned home to Castlewood from college Thursday night when the tornado struck.

“We heard it was coming and, yeah, everyone was freaking out.”

Eng was at a friend's house when the tornado hit with his mother and others.

“The fear in her voice was just terrible, and it was horrifying. I never want to experience my mother’s voice like that. It was awful."

Chris Lather wasn’t home when the tornado hit, and he was trying to get back into town Friday morning. He feared the worst.

"I haven’t seen my house, but I know that it’s totaled, so I’m trying to go see it.”

Renee Reusink said she's in shock.

“My friends’ homes are gone. This is the place that I grew up, so it’s hitting pretty close to the heart.”

The surrounding area has responded by lending support to Castlewood. Equipment and volunteers were showing up from neighboring communities.

“Seeing the town come together is really awesome,” said Eng.

A similar storm hit Castlewood in 2017 with 80 to 90 mile per hour winds.

The governor said Friday that the National Guard and many state agencies were deploying to Castlewood and other areas around the state to offer assistance.

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