Cleaning Killdeer: Volunteers come together to clear storm aftermath from airport
KILLDEER -- A few days after a powerful storm wreaked havoc on the Dunn County Airport, volunteers pitched in Saturday to remove debris from around the complex.
About a dozen community members and volunteers showed up bright and early for the cleanup session, which was needed after storms with winds approaching 90 mph tore apart the airport's hangar and damaged three planes Monday.
"We're very thankful for the turnout today and for the assistance we've received from the community after the storm," said Dunn County Airport Authority Vice President Mike Schollmeyer. "It left a big mess, but it's really not as bad as it might seem. We were going to tear down soon anyway. We were able to salvage the office and the electronics room, so that was good."
With various pieces of rubble and metal and plastic debris laid out next to the office and strewn about Weydahl Field -- which is located just north of Killdeer -- the crew used three loading units to fill two dump trucks for several loads of scrap.
Schollmeyer said there are no plans for the Airport Authority to build a new hangar.
"One thing I want to make clear is that Dunn County is not going to go into debt to build a new hangar," Schollmeyer said. "We don't have any plans to build. We're doing work to repair our runway, which is something we were going to do before the storm hit and that should be done anywhere from 45 to 90 days from now."
Schollmeyer said the airport is officially closed, but that pilots have been using Weydahl Field at their own discretion.
"I really want to thank all the people and businesses that have aided the airport in this," he said. "Bosch Lumber and Farmers Union were both a big help and we appreciate their help."
Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew, who was on hand for the cleanup Saturday, said last week's storm damage was some of the worst she's witnessed. Brew said one person in the county was injured during the storm, though one livestock animal was killed.
"I've lived here my entire life and I don't remember a storm that had as much of a wide-ranging effect," Brew said. "The most significant thing, of course, is that nobody died. It was a storm that came on quick and it had impacts all over the county."
Power outages and downed trees were prevalent around Dunn County following the storm. Trained weather spotters estimated winds in some areas of Dunn County of up to 85 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Brew said a number of county residents have also speculated that a funnel cloud may have touched down north of Killdeer, though no tornado activity has been confirmed.
"It hasn't been a fun deal if you own one of those planes, but I still believe there are big things in store for this airport," Schollmeyer said. "There's a lot of demand and people wanting to use this airport because right in the heart of the oil field. We're not going to build, but we're more than willing to lease out land around the airport for businesses or for a fixed-base operator. This isn't going to hurt that at all."
Though they don't have a roof any longer, two industrial-sized lawnmowers were left nearly untouched on the hangar's foundation.
"It's strange how the storm took the entire hangar, but left those lawnmowers," said volunteer Shirley Oja of Killdeer. "Those were some strong winds and they did some damage around here."