Emergency managers swarming to assess storm damage in multiple South Dakota counties
Emergency managers across eastern South Dakota are in the process of assessing the extent of the storm damage, which includes collapsed structures and downed powerlines and trees that have displaced some people from their living quarters.
Minnehaha County Emergency Manager Jason Gearman told the Argus Leader at approximately 6:30 p.m. Thursday that storm damage reports were still filtering in, but to this point, only downed power lines and trees were the extent of the damages reported in the county. He’s also received word of some injuries related to the storm, but did not have specifics.
One person died in Sioux Falls during the storm, officials said, but no specifics were released.
Deadly winds and tornadoes Thursday that stretched across eastern South Dakota claimed at least two lives.
Authorities announced during a morning news conference that a Wentworth woman was killed in the storm Thursday evening south of Colton when struck by storm debris.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said the victim, 61-year-old Wendy Lape, was traveling home with her husband in a vehicle when the incident occurred at 5:11 p.m. as straight line winds arrived to the area.
And though radio scanner traffic indicated a tornado touched down in Hartford at 5:03 p.m., Gearman said the National Weather Service has indicated there was no tornado.
“We think it was straight-line winds,” he said, saying the most severe damages occurred in the Hartford and Colton areas, as well as across southwest Sioux Falls.
“There are trees down and powerlines all over the county and Sioux Falls,” he said.
In Bon Homme where about 7,000 people live, authorities were notified by an eye-witness of a tornado near Tindal.
Bon Homme emergency manager Eric Elsberry said he’s not confirmed that a tornado occurred, but said there’s “widespread damage across the county,” like damaged roads and destroyed buildings – including homes, sheds and barns.
“Power is out in at least four of 5 towns,” he said.
In Salem, the Leisure Living assisted living facility had part of its roof ripped off by high winds, forcing residents to evacuate to the armory, said BJ Stiefvater, McCook County emergency manager. As many as 50 homes in the county sustained damage, he said.
The Avantara nursing home also suffered damage. Neighbors said they saw patients evacuated at 5 p.m..
In Hutchinson County two mobile homes have been destroyed, said emergency manager Barry Nankivel.
In Codington County, Emergency Management Director Andrew Delgado is also still assessing damages, but there have been reports of storage units totally destroyed and downed trees on power lines.
Damages appear to have been particularly heavy south Kampeska.
In Hamlin County, a tornado was reported in Castlewood around 6 p.m., damaging two homes and the school, according to the National Weather Service.
The extensive property damage has prompted an unscheduled visit from Gov. Kristi Noem. She’s visited her home town to survey damages later Thursday night, according to her office.
In Brookings County, damage was wide spread, said Bob Hill, the county emergency manager. Two buildings in the city of Brookings were demolished and a church lost its roof.
The Brookings Health System Emergency Department has had a surge of patients since the storm passed, according to Karen Weber, the director of the department.
"We are seeing patients from the storm, but we have more than ample staff," she said. "We're busier than usual and we've brought in extra help. There are a range of injuries." She wouldn't provide specifics as to the types of injuries but said there have been no deaths.
Rolling storm damage reports in South Dakota
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