MARION, N.D. — One resident said tornadoes that hit the region 15 years ago this week, sounded like "100 deer rifles" going off at the same time. According to the National Weather Service, approximately 12 tornadoes touched down between 6:30 and 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 18, 2004, in parts of North Dakota including the cities of Marion, Tower City and Grand Forks.

Nancy Noot of Marion, N.D., remembers the day very well.

"We were baling hay about a mile from the farm," she said in a phone interview last week. "I saw the funnel cloud coming. It looks like it was coming straight down the road."

Nancy, husband Dana and their 12-year-old son Nick sought shelter at a neighbor's house. But the neighbor didn't think their stone basement was safe, so he loaned the Noots a car to drive to safety.

Noot recalls looking back.

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"I kept saying, 'It's hitting the farm. It's hitting the farm,' " she says.

She was right. In a Forum article from July 19, 2018, Forecaster Mark Ewens said at least four farms in Barnes County sustained heavy damage that day including the Noot farm, seven miles northwest of Marion. The storm that hit the Noot farm was believed to be an F-4 on the Fujita scale with winds in excess of 260 miles per hour.

When the Noots returned, to the farm — that had been in the family since 1928 — the loss was devastating.

"My husband just kept saying, 'we're done,'" she says. "Everything was gone."

They found uprooted trees, twisted farm machinery, pieces of the house, barn, bins and garages scattered throughout the property. A picture of Nick, was found 13 miles away near the town of Litchville, N.D. The family's refrigerator and piano were no where to be found.

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While the family escaped unharmed, one of the their three dogs and one cat was killed. Noot says they also lost 49 cattle.

The Noot family in 2019, from left, Samantha, Nick, Dana and Nancy. Their farm was destroyed 15 years ago by a tornado, but Nancy says thanks to the friends and family, they completely rebuilt. Submitted photo
The Noot family in 2019, from left, Samantha, Nick, Dana and Nancy. Their farm was destroyed 15 years ago by a tornado, but Nancy says thanks to the friends and family, they completely rebuilt. Submitted photo

But it didn't take long for the community to rally around the Noots.

Neighbors joined forces to cleanup and rebuild. Noot says they were able to move back into their home by February of 2005, just seven months after the tornado. Nick is now 27 years old, married to wife Samantha and joined his parents farming.

Noot says she doesn't dwell on the anniversary of the tornado anniversary every July 18. But when she thinks about those days she says she's incredibly grateful.

"We wouldn't be where we are today without all the help from friends and family," she says.