Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 25, 1998

The day the 'bomb' went off

By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS

"Son of a biscuit." Florian Yurek repeats the phrase over and over as he and his son, Mike, walk around the rubble on their farm that once was outbuildings.

By late afternoon on Friday, May 15, a tornado had taken out a barn, machine shed, shop, granary, and another shed.

Looking at the damage, no one would fault Florian if his curses were a bit stronger.

He called May 15 the day the bomb went off.

"It sounded just like an explosion," he said.

From the looks of the debris, an explosion is the best way to describe what happened.

Mike Yurek, who owns the farm a few miles north of Silver Lake, knows it was not straight line winds that took out the buildings.

"We had come from the (Hollywood) Ranch House, we had went to the hay auction," Mike said. "Dad was watching the clouds outside and I was watching from the kitchen and the sky just turned white," he said. "It looked like it was clearing out, then I saw the tail hanging down. It was swirling counter clockwise."

Mike saw the clouds start to swirl about 1,000 feet from the house, and his dad wrestled with the wind to get the front door closed.

"They say you sometimes get superhuman strength when you need it. I think I had it that day," Florian said.

The tornado moved in a straight line, destroying the buildings in its path. Fifty feet away, cows in another barn were unharmed.

"I was going to put them out in the pasture, but something told me I shouldn't," Mike said.

The tally for the damage is about $100,000, Mike said.

That includes $9,000 to the house plus equipment; pickup truck; grain, straw, hay, and tools that were lost; a bail thrower; six bail racks; square bailer, bail elevator; manure spreader; and Florian's favorite corn picker.

Florian and Mike begin the tour at what was the barn and Florian sits down on a board.

"Son of a biscuit. I just put 60 gallons of paint on this barn last year," Florian said.

Mike and his dad look over the barn awhile.

"We had 50 guys out here Saturday cleaning up. I don't know what we would have done without them," Mike said.

They walk over to where the shop had been.

"This was my favorite place," Florian said. He points out where just that morning, things had been in the shop, and he had been working on a boat motor.

Across the road, in a field one-quarter mile away lie metal and debris from the Yureks' farm. Chain saws were found in the alfalfa field, the gas sucked out of them.

Posts that held up the barn were also across the road, driven two feet in the ground.

Mike says on Saturday, one of the people helping clean up found Florian's welding rods stuck in the front yard in a row.

Tuesday, Mike and Florian had a new problem. Their well went dry.

"When I was kid, people would say a tornado would wreck your well," Florian said. "I never believed it. Now I do."

Last week, the first crop of alfalfa was ready to cut, but Mike, who sells hay for income, didn't know what he would do, as all his machinery was destroyed or damaged.

"I've got nothing to haul it with," he said.

"I told him just to sell it off the field," Florian said. "There's nothing else you can do with it."


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