St. Peter Class of 1998 Reflects on Tornado's Impact
March 29, 1998, a day people in St. Peter, Comfrey and other towns in southern Minnesota will never forget as a powerful tornado tore through the heart of the communities.
For many, it's a day that's impossible to forget.
KEYC News 12 sits down with four members of the St Peter Saints class of '98 as they look back 20 years.
Emily Travaille: "You know we grew up in a town that was always told you're in the valley, you'll never get a tornado. So my parents who had raised us in this town – I was watching them. And you could tell by their faces that this is serious."
Kimberley Deming: "We were standing outside, checking things out. People didn't think it was going to amount to anything. I'll never forget when Kris stood outside of the shelter and she did this thing with her hands and it was literally cold air on one side and warm air on the other, and she said everybody needs to get outside now."
ET: Once we got outside all of our trees were gone. Every one of them were down. We lived to the south of Minnesota Square park, so we were south of 169 but we could look up and see Gustavus. And right then my mom said this is bad."
Landon Little: "The community got lucky because Gustavus was on spring break. I can only imagine if students were up there how bad this could have been."
ET: Or even here in this school.
KD: Yeah, because it was a Sunday evening instead of a school day.
ET: They could have all been in here.
KD: It was awesome actually. That's what everyone probably thought when we were all told we didn't have to start school until noon and we could get out at four. You could file in a little before noon and get your sack lunch if you were eating lunch at school. The little kids would be filing out with their sack lunches, and if they wanted breakfast, their school day started at 6:45.
ET: For me as an adult now, it really did change my perspective on what was important. Our class became closer. We valued that we weren't going to see each other in a couple months, but we get this opportunity to go back to elementary school where we began and kinda hang out.
Kris Sandborg: So much about the character in this town and how we came together, I honestly feel that has drawn more people to the community.
ET: Seeing the community center, that was a huge jump if you knew what the old community center was. You didn't realize something like that could be in town because everything was historic. It was sad, you lost the community center and the church, all those things, beautiful old historical buildings, but you didn't realize what new and modern could bring your community.
KD: I don't think it defines us. It was just something that made us realize what we were all about. Had something like that not happened, we might have never met someone from the middle of town. Crossed paths to help them saw down trees in their backyard five hours later or the next day. I definitely think it was eye opening and gave us that push to bond together as a town and realize what a great place this is.
Of course the 20th anniversary of the tornado also means the 20th high school reunion for the class.
It's September 29th at Woods in St. Peter. Classmates can expect more info in the near future.
-KEYC News 12