North Dakota officials said early Tuesday that nine people were injured, one critically, when a tornado hit an oil worker camp just south of Watford City, located in the western region of the state about 30 miles southwest of Williston.
McKenzie County Emergency Management Director Jerry Samuelson said the tornado destroyed eight trailers where the workers resided. He stated that the critically injured person was transported to a hospital in Minot, N.D. for treatment. The other eight workers were treated and released.
Samuelson said that rescue crews are currently searching through a large quantity of debris, although he is confident that no one is missing.
On late Monday, William Bunkel, an employee for a local trucking company, told the Associated Press that he was in Watford City with co-workers when the tornado warning was issued. They had just moved their trucks inside because of large hail when they saw the funnel cloud.
He said, "We saw it form, come out of the sky, hit the ground and go back up into the clouds."
Samuelson stated that there were three reported sightings of funnel clouds in the area.
The North Dakota oil boom, the epicenter of which is the Bakken formation, has been the primary catalyst of a large population boom for the area. Many residents reside in hastily-assembled man camps or trailer parks, which contain pre-fabricated structures.
Housing developments are being built in large areas of town that only a couple of years ago did not exist on maps. However, they are still not sufficiently large to keep pace with demand. Consequently, oil money has catapulted rent rates to among the highest in the US.
For example, a one bedroom apartment in Williston can easily cost $2,000 per month in rent, and a spot to park a trailer can cost more than $800 per month.