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Lake Poinsett hit hard by strong wind and heavy rain; campers tossed like toys

todayJune 3, 2024 2

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LAKE POINSETT, S.D. (KELO) — People around Lake Poinsett are picking up the pieces after a violent storm with heavy rain pushed through that area Sunday night, destroying a number of campers.

Several witnesses say it only took about five minutes, but the cleanup and the recovery could take weeks if not months.

In a heavy downpour, first responders went on a search and rescue mission.

Several campers were tossed like toys.

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“As soon as we saw the weather service put it out and as soon as KELOLAND had it out on TV, we went around to the campgrounds and on to the state park and said be ready have a plan if something happens,” said Victor Erlacher the manager of Lake Poinsett Estates Campground.

Erlacher was one of those first responders.

He says it had been a pretty nice day, but he was watching the weather closely; especially one big cloud that was moving in quickly.

“And I know people thought I was crazy I called in from the Lake Albert area I said set off the sirens I called Emergency Management and the sun was shining and within 5 minutes I couldn’t make it back here,” Erlacher said.

Diane Schuchhardt of Arlington has spent the last 18 summers here in her camper. She says it’s been like a second home.

Now it’s destroyed, but she says she feels lucky.

“I was home, my husband wasn’t feeling well, so I went home to make sure he’s okay otherwise I would have been here,” Schuchhardt said.

Tim Bunker’s camper ended up in the water.

“Well it’s demolished now, but it’s a 2019; we just bought it this spring and basically there’s nothing left of it,” Bunker said.

Bunker says he usually spends Sunday nights here, because it’s a little more peaceful, but as fate would have it, he too, wasn’t here this time.

“We went home because it was a nice day and we wanted to try and get some more farm work done,” Bunker said.

When the storm hit, Martin Losby says he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“I was standing in my brother’s garage and all of a sudden the wind picked up and his golf cart picks up off the yard and lands right in the middle of the street,” Losby said.

He said it flew through the air for about 15 feet.

“Watched the whole thing,” Losby said.

And despite all the damage and the cleanup to follow, they all feel pretty grateful.

“I’m sad because I’ve spent so much of my life here for 18 years, but I’m happy everybody is okay,” Schuchhardt said.

KELOLAND Meteorologist Adam Rutt says there were reports of funnel clouds in the area, but no confirmed touchdowns.

That area also got four inches of rain.

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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