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Tornado Ripped Through SD Town 10 Years Ago



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It was 10 years ago Monday, that an F4 tornado ripped through the small South Dakota town of Manchester. Not only would the twister change it's resident's lives forever, but it would change the face of the town.

When you pull off of Highway 14 onto Kinsbury Avenue, the street that leads to the former town of Manchester, all that indicates it used to be a town is a beat up sign.

Drive a little further, and you will see the memorial, a monument that sits on what was once the old township hall. The monument tells the story of the destruction that took place on June 24th, 2003.

It's a day Mark Strickler will never forget. He was at home, about a half mile southwest of Manchester,
when he saw the half mile wide tornado heading toward the tiny little town. A sound, unlike any, he's ever heard before.

Strickler said, "We watched it and as it started to move out of Manchester my son and I brought a bunch of blankets."

Strickler was one of the first to arrive on the scene. When he pulled onto the road leading into the town,
he saw his friend Kris Towberman, safe. Then he noticed the cement slab. The slab was all that was left of her two story home.

Strickler said, "There was no boards at all, just the concrete and flower beds outside the house."

Her husband Noel was missing. Standing on the second step leading into their basement, he was hanging on to the railing, when the twister picked up the house.
    
"I started walking hollering for Noel. I found him, he was about 250 feet northeast of the house," said Strickler.    

Strickler's friend was one of three Manchester residents injured. No one died, but he says something else did that dark night. Manchester fell right along with the sky.

"Nothing was how it used to be anymore," said Strickler.

The former town will never be the same. However, those who live in the surrounding communities say they will never forget, evident by the fresh flowers that sit by the Manchester monument's side.

The pressure drop ahead of a tornado that destroyed Manchester remains the largest ever recorded. As it approached the community, the air pressure dropped 100 millibars in just 12 seconds. The measurement was documented by storm researcher Tim Samaras, who was killed last month chasing a powerful tornado near El Reno, Oklahoma.


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