MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Three tornadoes touched down in southwestern Minnesota Thursday evening, uprooting trees and damaging farms and homes in Redwood County.

One-hundred-mile-an-hour winds tossed the debris across fields. The storm system quickly left its mark just south of town, with mature trees and mangled pole barns littered about.

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As bobcats cleared debris, volunteers combed through fields, picking up what Mother Nature scattered about.

“You can see here it’s a mess, so we’ve been cleaning this up since about 8 this morning,” said resident Dan Barnum.

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His farm, located south of Redwood Falls, appears the hardest hit, ripped apart by a tornado that danced across farmsteads and fields around dinner time. That twisting cloud tore Barnum’s implement shed in half, then shredded century-old cottonwoods.

“My grandfather planted them back in the 1890s, so they’re gone,” Barnum said.

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A couple miles to the southeast, a large cattle operation got lucky. Mark Nemitz lost a grain bin and feed shed, but it could have been much worse.

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“If the storm would’ve been another 100 feet to the south and got into the cattle pens, it could’ve been pretty ugly,” Nemitz said.

Friends, neighbors and even total strangers pitched in to help pick up Friday. They were grateful that the tornado showed a bit of mercy.

“I didn’t lose the house, so that’s the main thing,” Barnum said.

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Residents say the tornado caught them a bit by surprise. Most were expecting a greater probability of severe weather Friday.