KEYC - Mankato News, Weather, Sports - - Remembering St. Peter Tornado, 15 Years Later

Remembering St. Peter Tornado, 15 Years Later

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MANKATO, Minn. -

Fifteen years ago, a f–3 tornado ripped through St. Peter. Changing the city forever.

City Administrator Todd Prafke says, "It seems like a million years away and yesterday at the same time."

Prafke had been on the job all of three months when the twister hit.

Prafke says, "We were really lucky in that the sirens were ringing for quite a long time before the tornado occurred 15 minutes or more."

The tornado killed one person, around 200 homes were destroyed, and more than seven thousand trees were demolished.

Everyone who was in St. Peter at the time has a story about where they were, how they live through it, and what they experienced.

Ed Lee says, "I'll never forget coming out of the basement of the Herald, where I was chickening out by the way hiding down there and walking out onto MN avenue and the wind was still blowing really hard and the sky was a yellow and there were bricks all over the sidewalks and there was medal and splintered wood and you knew this was a really big deal."

Lee was a reporter at the St. Peter Herald at the time.

Lee says, "There was no ground zero, all of St. Peter was ground zero, as a reporters we didn't know where to start."

In total the area suffered over 120 million dollars in damage.

"The community, people that live here made an active decision that we would get up off the mat, that we would be better than we were before and I think that had been demonstrated in a lot of different ways over the last 15 years,"

Beyond the structures rebuilt, there is a sense of community that can be felt throughout the town.

"That wind kind of blew into us, drove into our DNA that we have to work together, that we can work together."

A community there all along, but made stronger by the storm that brought everyone together.

Lee says, "The population has actually increased in St. Peter, businesses are thriving now, the community is better."

Fifteen years later, the strength of that f–3 tornado can still be felt in St. Peter,

Lee says, "As people tell stories they will say well was that before the tornado or after the tornado."

But so can the resilience of the community.

Prafke says, "We are stronger now that we were before the tornado."

The town of Comfrey was also devastated by a tornado that afternoon. And in Lonsdale, four homes and six businesses were extensively damaged.