WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) – A tornado severely damaged about 15 trailers housing workers in North Dakota’s oil patch Monday, the National Weather Service said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was injured when the twister struck the camp about 5 miles south of Watford City, which is in the west of the state about 30 miles southeast of the oil boom hub city of Williston. People who answered the phone at the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office and McKenzie County Hospital in Watford City declined to discuss the matter.
Although the tornado threat for the area passed, McKenzie County emergency management officials were asking people to stay off the roads because emergency vehicles were having a difficult time reaching the scene.
The oil boom led to a population explosion in western North Dakota, bringing in tens of thousands of people looking for work. Many reside in hastily-assembled trailer parks or man camps, which contain pre-fabricated structures that can resemble military barracks. Some companies rent blocks of hotel rooms for employees to live in, and some workers sleep in their cars or even tents.
Housing developments are constantly popping up in big areas of town that didn’t exist on maps a couple of years ago. But they are still not enough to keep pace with demand and oil money has pushed rents to among the highest in the nation: a simple one bedroom apartment in Williston can easily cost $2,000 a month in rent. Even a spot to park a trailer can cost over $800 per month.