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National Guard leaves Wessington Springs

The National Guard is no longer needed in Wessington Springs, according to the town's mayor.

The National Guard left Wessington Springs Tuesday, Mayor Melissa Mebius said. Soldiers were sent in last week to clear debris on the roads as well as any debris obstructing a road or public right-of-way.

The state hasn't declared Wessington Springs a disaster area, but requests have been sent to Gov. Dennis Daugaard's office, said Mebius.

Many residents affected by the tornado have found housing and are renting places for now. Some are still in hotels trying to find a place to live, and the rest are living with their families in town said Mebius. Many of the houses were torn down Tuesday as part of the cleanup process. A few residents still need to scour their residences for personal belongings, said Mebius.

Another high priority was cleaning up the gulch just outside Wessington Springs.

"We wanted people to know that, 'Hey, we are cleaning up and it's getting better,' " said Mebius.

Wessington Springs is in the process of trying to get things back to normal, as youth baseball and softball have been resumed. The girls played Monday and the boys played Tuesday and will play throughout the week. After the cleanup is controlled and managed, fundraisers and charity events will be resumed. There will also be a youth musical at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Opera House in Wessington Springs. Cleaning the community pool will be a priority moving forward, and there will be a Fourth of July celebration, said Mebius.

"There has been so much progress," Mebius said. "Most of the major debris is picked up and now it's just some of the houses that need to come down. Like I said from the very beginning, it's not a quick fix. We're in it for the long haul, and it will be better."

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