Native Sun News: Deadly storm hits Crow Creek Sioux Reservation

The following story was written and reported by Ernestine Chasing Hawk, Native Sun News Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

There’s nothing left of this house on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation after a severe storm blew it apart>

Deadly storm ravages Crow Creek Indian Reservation
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Editor

FORT THOMPSON –– Several homes were destroyed and one person lost their life when a storm with no warning tore through the Crow Creek Indian Reservation on June 19.

Wilfred Wind Sr., 61, was sleeping on his couch when the storm hit his trailer home. He died as a result of the injuries he suffered when his home was destroyed by what has been called straight-line winds. Wind was a former Crow Creek Tribal council member who had also served as tribal treasurer.

The Gonzalez family had just been outside working on cars preparing for a demolition derby in Highmore, when the deadly storm came upon them with no warning.

Charlotte Gonzalez said she and her husband, Ray Gonzalez, had just gone inside their trailer that is located about five miles out of Fort Thompson in the East Housing area, when they realized this was no ordinary storm.

“The wind came up and Ray was trying to get something to brace the door,” Charlotte said. “He told us to get into the bathtub.”

But before Charlotte and her three grandchildren, Ramon, 5, Tika, 3, and Travis, 2 could reach the bathroom the trailer came crashing down around them.

“I just ran for the bedroom. I was just terrified. I just barely made it to the closet with my grandson Ramon,” Charlotte said. “It felt like the trailer was lifting up. When people look at the trailer they are surprised that anyone survived.”

Ray said he could feel the trailer lift up three times before he felt the trailer stakes being pulled from the ground.

“It was just like a bomb went off. I was holding the door and it blew me up into the ceiling in between a pair of two by fours. Then we just started rolling,” he said. “By the time we stopped the frame and the ceiling and the walls had separated.”

He immediately started looking for his family and said he found his grandson Travis and granddaughter Tika under a wooden drawer that had sheltered them in the shape of a tipi.

When he found Tika he said “It looked like she was gone.” But he shook her and she came to. “Somebody was watching over us.”

The storm caused damage across the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Photo from American Red Cross / Facebook

“I’m screaming for my wife and my other grandson and I thought they were dead because there was nothing left. It was like a typhoon,” he said. He rummaged through the ruins in his bare feet and found Charlotte and Ramon and they immediately got in their car and headed for shelter.

Pricilla and Brandon Grey Owl also lost their home in the storm.

The tribe has given the families temporary shelter at the Lode Star Motel and the Red Cross set up at the Lode Star Casino and helped with food, gas and clothes.

The Gonzalez’s said they contacted ROCS who offer assistance for tornado victims but were told they could not get help because they said it wasn’t a tornado.

“I don’t know who is going to help us. Our tribe isn’t set up for a disaster. It’s kinda hard on me it still hurts, everything is gone and we don’t have a home to go to,” Charlotte said. “My grandbabies keep getting up and crying and trying to run away and I keep holding them and trying to comfort them.”

Nancy Miller the mother of Charlotte Gonzalez said, “It’s a miracle that my daughter got out of that trailer alive with her little grandbabies.”

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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Severe storm claims life of man from Crow Creek Sioux Tribe (6/22)

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