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Storms & Tornadoes Leave Damage In North-Central Minn.

WATKINS, Minn. (WCCO) — Law enforcement in Meeker County say they saw three tornadoes touch down when severe weather moved across Minnesota last night. They saw one in Litchfield, one in Watkins, and one near Lake Koronis.

The storms damaged about 30 homes and five businesses in Watkins. There's no doubt the city of 1,000 residents took the brunt of Monday night's tornado damage. Yet, incredibly, there was no loss of life.

About 50 assisted living residents of the Hilltop Care center were evacuated where part of the roof was torn off. Neighbors say the sirens actually sounded twice within 25 to 30 minutes before the tornado swept into town. That's because it was being tracked by trained spotters, stationed throughout Meeker County.

What took families lifetimes to put together took nature just minutes to rip apart. Video shows the tornado moments before changing the landscape of what had been a beautiful Minnesota town.

"It didn't feel good not knowing where everybody was," Watkins resident Andrea Thompson said.

Thompson was at work when the storm hit -- her two small children went to the basement.

"I was relieved to get through and see the family fine," she said. "There was some damage to the house and trees, but nothing that can't be replaced."

Many spend the day handing out pizzas and pop to cleanup crews. Volunteers swarmed in from neighboring towns to remove debris and downed branches. In the meantime, utility crews are working non-stop to restore power.

The most seriously hurt in the tornado is 84-year-old Dolores Faber. She survived in her town home that took a direct hit, and without a basement.

"She had two guardian angels looking after her, both hanging on," her son Tim Faber said.

Her family was amazed she made it out after crawling under a kitchen table.

"She crawled out and they took sheet rock and two-by-fours off her," Faber said. "They called an ambulance because her back was bleeding from the cuts, I believe."

All across town are sounds of support and signs of comfort, rebuilding lives torn apart by a summer night's fury.

We're told Dolores should be out of the hospital fairly soon, and then she'll need temporary housing.

The silver lining to this disaster is the outpouring of help and support. Volunteers from surrounding communities are pouring in to help remove debris and get residents of Watkins back on their feet again.

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