homepage logo

When neighbors count most

By Staff | May 14, 2014

DEBRIS FROM THE milking parlor of tornado-damaged Rolling View Dairy, three miles north of Newkirk, in Sioux County, was gathered and piled on Sunday by volunteer workers who assisted the dairy throughout the night to ensure its Jersey cows could be milked.

NEWKIRK – “One thing about a dairy, you’ve got to milk those cows no matter what,” said Ken Davelaar, after he and Sioux County volunteers helped clean up debris when a tornado Sunday night did an estimated $3 million to the Rolling View Dairy near Newkirk.

The place had to be ready for Monday morning milking chores.

Davelaar was standing in the garage adjacent to the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Heidi and Art VanderWaal, as a midday meal was readied for post-tornado clean-up volunteers.

He described the scene awaiting him and others as they arrived at the dairy in response to news reports Sunday night of severe tornado damage to the VanderWaal’s 3-year old family dairy operation.

The tornado, rated as an EF-1, by the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, with a peak wind speed of 96 miles per hour touched down Sunday at approximately 8:30 p.m.

MILKING TIME was anything but routine for the Jersey cows in the Rolling View Dairy herd after the roof of the milking parlor was blown off during Sunday night’s tornado. An estimated 200 of the cows roamed around the dairy farm before being rounded up by volunteers, including members of the Hospers Volunteer Fire Department, Sioux County Sheriff’s department and others who were on the scene throughout the night.

The tornado was on the ground for more than a 4-mile stretch for approximately 11 minutes and damaged three farmsteads, including Rolling View Dairy.

Sioux County Emergency Management Services said less severe damage was sustained to a nearby house and farm.

“Yes, there’s a tremendous amount of damage over there at the dairy,” Davelaar said. “The roof and walls of the milking parlor are near totally gone, but if you can imagine, everyone working all night and into the morning have cleaned up a considerable amount of the debris. Temporary (electrical) juice is hooked up, and they’re milking cows again.

“Everyone did a tremendous job, and within 13 hours after the tornado.”

Members of the Hospers Volunteer Fire Department and Sioux County Sheriff’s department worked well into the night and early Monday assisting in the post-tornado clean-up to allow cows – among them 200 set free by the wind-opened walls of the parlor and other barns – to return to their pens.

VOLUNTEER WORKERS wash tornado residue from the side of the Art and Heidi VanderWaal home following Sunday night’s tornado that damaged the family’s 1,500-head Rolling View Dairy and caused additional damage at a neighboring farm home. Another of the VanderWaal family’s dairies near by, operated by Walt VanderWaal, escaped the tornado.

At least 12 of the dairy’s 1,500-head Jersey herd were killed in the storm.

Davelaar said additional injuries to the herd may be spotted later.

Volunteers assisting with the clean-up, Davelaar said, including neighbors and members of the Netherlands Reformed Church in Rock Valley, where the VanderWaals attend.

All, Davelaar said “wanting to help as they could.”

Davelaar said Monday he and his wife were watching television at their home in Rock Valley Sunday night when they heard the first reports of the path of the pending tornado and called their daughter and son-in-law “to beware of the expected tornado.”

“Everyone did a tremendous job, and within 13 hours after the tornado.” -Ken Davelaar, Sioux County neighbor to Rolling View Dairy, near Newkirk

“Fifteen to 20 minutes later they texted us back to say the dairy had been hit, and that there was a lot of damage and assured us they themselves were safe.

“We can all feel very fortunate that no one was hurt,” he said.

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page