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20 years ago – tornado devastates Cokato
Monday, June 11 2012

Cokato residents asked to share their stories with the Enterprise Dispatch

By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

COKATO, MN – This Saturday marks the anniversary of the tornado that devastated Cokato 20 years ago, June 16, 1992 at 11:15 p.m.

The tornado came from the southwest, and roared through Cokato traveling northeast, destroying barns and buildings, and uprooting trees.

Residents didn’t have time to retreat to their basements or seek shelter, and had very little warning, as the sirens did not sound because the power had gone out before the tornado struck, according to the June 23, 1992 edition of the Enterprise Disapatch.

Although no lives were lost in the tornado, it destroyed 12 homes, and injured nine people seriously enough to be transported to the hospital.

Those who had their homes destroyed were Lisa Becker, James Ryynanen, Gladys Forsberg, Solomon Bernhardt, Gene Amborn, Gertrude Olson, Celia Johnson, and Paul Smith, along with four trailer homes in the mobile home park on East Second Street.

Those who sustained injuries and needed transportation to area hospitals were Lisa Becker, and her daughter, Sabrina; Janel Ryynanen, Rodney Gulbransen, Dennis Berglund, Mark Nelson, Sharon Kottke, and two others who were not named in the Enterprise Dispatch.

The Becker house blew over on Lisa and Sabrina, with Lisa desperately clinging to Sabrina’s hand as she was being pulled into the air.

Many buildings were damaged throughout Cokato and surrounding areas. The round Titrud barn, a historic site, was destroyed southwest of Cokato, and the Stockholm Lutheran Church lost its steeple.

Bruce Semke’s shop was destroyed, and the elementary school lost part of its roof and wall on the southeast side and all of its windows on the west side.

The Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church was destroyed, as well as the historic State Bank Building at the corner of Broadway Avenue and Third Street.

As the tornado traveled out of Cokato, it hit Cokato Lake Campground, destroying the Red Barn and campers.

Power lines and trees blocked nearly every street in town, making it difficult for rescue crews to travel through town to make sure residents were safe.

This week, the Enterprise Dispatch will be interviewing people who lived through the tornado.

Those who wish to share their tornado stories and photos can e-mail them to jkotila@heraldjournal.com, drop them off at the Enterprise Dispatch office at 185 Third Street SW in Cokato, or call the Enterprise Dispatch office at (320) 286-2118.

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