MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Emergency officials now say some 71 homes, businesses and other structures sustained varying degrees of damage in Watkins.

The spirit of a small town shines brightest when disaster strikes. For Watkins residents, Monday’s tornado is putting it to the test.

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“There’s been overwhelming support from central Minnesota and beyond, people are calling from all over to ask what the community needs,” said Sandy Hanson-Wolff, from Watkins Emergency Dining Program.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

To nourish the many volunteers and victims, they have set up a community dining hall. The Watkins Tornado Relief Fund is now feeding everyone for free.

Gov. Mark Dayton saw that resilience firsthand in Wednesday.

Tootz Tschumperlin’s home is gone, but the help has been overwhelming.

“People from you don’t even know come to volunteer,” Tschumperlin said.

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A driving tour took Dayton past piles of debris and devastated neighborhoods. He reassured residents at Hilltop Care Center that things will be OK, and Meeker County should easily qualify for state aid.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“I’m so happy that no lives were lost, no one was seriously injured,” Dayton said. “That’s almost a miracle given the severity of the damage.”

Brian Trylak’s Hilltop neighborhood already shows signs of recovery and rebuilding. He lost his garage and a newly-purchased travel trailer he was set to enjoy this summer.

“[I bought it] three months ago, a brand-new 2016 camper. It lifted it out of our yard and dumped it in their yard,” Trylak said. “I find pieces a mile out that way.”

A night of devastation has led to days of hard work, but the cleanup is made lighter by the muscle of many.

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That state disaster assistance fund was only recently enacted by the legislature, and reimburses municipalities 75 percent of their costs — anything over $41,000.