Tornado Strikes Watford City R.V. Park - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Tornado Strikes Watford City R.V. Park

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There are thousands of campers, trailers and mobile homes in the dozens of man camps located throughout the Bakken. This morning there are  15 fewer.

The first tornado of North Dakota's 2014 storm season destroyed all of the temporary housing in Raley's (Rallys) R.V. Park, but last night's severe weather could have been a whole lot worse. Just a few weeks ago there were twice as many trailers located in the man camp behind me that was leveled Monday evening, and miraculously no one was killed when the twister touched down on top of the homes that were parked here.

Residents of what was once a small community of oil field workers who have lost everything but their lives, sat in trucks outside of Raley's R.V. Park, waiting for a chance to pick up and collect the pieces of what was once their homes. 

"The trailer's gone, everything is gone, there's no remnants of a trailer ever being there," says Aly Dickinson, tornado victim.

Dickinson is due to deliver her first child in a just few days, but now she doesn't have a place to bring the baby home to.

"We had our crib and all of our nursery set up. Everything was perfect in our camper, ready to go for my due date on the first, all the baby's stuff is destroyed. We can't find our cats. We had three cats. They're gone," says Dickinson.

Dickinson and her husband were eating dinner in a restaurant when the storm hit. The trailer court a hundred yards to the south and another man camp a mile north sustained no damage at all. 

"We thought there was a concrete tank back there, but it ended up being styrofoam, so that really didn't work out so well for us, so we got into an excavator bucket, that was the best thing we could find to get in," says man camp resident Mike Williams. 

Thousands of North Dakota's oil field employees live in temporary housing. McKenzie County has more than 50 man camps, ranging in size from a couple dozen trailers to large corporate facilities with over 200 living spaces. Most don't have anywhere residents can go to seek shelter from a storm.

People are basically living on the prairie.

McKenzie County Emergency Manager Jerry Samuelson says many man camps also don't have warning systems. The Memorial Day storm evolved from a severe thunderstorm into a full blown tornado in less than 10 minutes, leaving the residents of this R.V. Park with no where to go.  Now, thanks to Monday's tornado, they won't have anywhere to live for quite awhile.

A Red Cross emergency shelter has been set up in the Watford City Civic Center for people displaced by last night's storm and it will remain open for as long as it takes for storm victims to find other housing.

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