By Alan Sorensen
In the blink of an eye Saturday night, the Kenny Swan familys world was turned upside down literally.
While the Swans were enjoying the 35th annual Rocky Boys Pow Wow Saturday night a tornado-type wind whipped their Box Elder trailer home onto its top. The lone occupant at the time was their pet Pekinese dog, Daisy, who survived intact but shaken.
A neighbor who was among the first on the scene said that Daisy, though unhurt, was unusually quiet and shivering noticeably.
Neighbors called the Rocky Boy Police Department and officers were dispatched to the powwow to notify the Swans.
It was a good thing they were having powwow, Swan said Sunday afternoon, because we probably would have been inside of it. Swans wife, Luella, was comforted by friends and relatives as she sobbed softly on the front porch that the wind left untouched to mark the spot where their home once stood.
Two lawn mowers that were standing along the front of the trailer remained unmoved, as well, but a barbecue stand that no one had seen before ended up in a neighbors yard. Some tree branches were down at Box Elder School, but little other damage was evident in the Swans neighborhood.
The Swans three children sons Jamie, 17, and Charles, 14, and daughter Margie, 19 spent most of the day rummaging through the wreckage, recovering salvageable clothing and other possessions as best they could.
Swan said his vehicles are insured, but that he let his insurance lapse on the home.
I owned everything, never owed, Swan said. It sure wiped it out fast.
Neighbors told Swan that the air became still moments before the wind lifted the trailer off its blocks and shoved it back about 20 or 30 feet and knocked power out to the area. Clocks were stopped by the power outage shortly before 10 p.m.
Swans father, who lives across the street, told Swan that the wind shook his home. A whole block of wooden fences in the area was reportedly taken out, too.
Pat Patterson, of Montana Power Co., said that three utility poles in the Box Elder School area went down because of the tornado or whatever it was that hit the area Saturday night.
Power company personnel restored power to the area about 10 or 11 hours later, Swan said.
Swan said the tribal road department sent over a front-end loader to help clear the wreckage. They ended up hooking chains to the upside-down trailers floor and pulling it away.
Many of the familys belongings were destroyed, including all of its appliances. Swan hoped to be able to save the familys large TV set and digital satellite TV dish.
Swan said several people had offered temporary accommodations to him and his family. He said hed been told that tribal housing might even have a temporary home for them.
Swan, who was up most of the night, said the family had made no firm plans as of Sunday afternoon. Its kind of up to the kids, he said. Theyve got a lot of friends here and there.
Swan said the family was unsure if it would pursue fund-raisers to help recover its losses, but was firm in its plans to remain at Box Elder for the next few years, at least.
I work in Great Falls, he said, but I have kids who go to school here, so Im going to stick around for a year or three until they graduate.