A total of three tornadoes hit the largest city in the state of South Dakota overnight and left a prominent impact in the form of destroyed buildings and damaged power lines. Moreover, the storm caused the prompt, yet safe movement of several dozens of patients housed in a hospital which was severely incapacitated by the strong winds.
Following the announcement regarding the approaching tornado, which sounded some time before midnight, employees who worked the night shift at a behavioral health center at a hospital in Sioux Falls had little time to react.
According to the CEO and president of the University Health Center and Avera McKennan Hospital in the largest city in South Dakota, David Flicek, the staff had approximately ten minutes at their disposal to wake up 102 residents of the hospital in total and transfer them to the central part of the building. He concluded that everyone was alive and well.
Despite the fact that a strong tornado had not hit Sioux Falls in a total of 25 years, the hospitals within the Avera Health System have continued with the standard preparedness training. Their work proved to be useful when one of the three EF-2 tornadoes pommeled the campus of the hospital.
The winds roared over the heart hospital of the system at the speed of 130 mph after a man who was having a heart attack had been admitted to the hospital. As stated by Nick Gibbs, the CEO of Avera Heart Hospital, the man in question continued being operated on, and the doctors and nurses eventually managed to save his life.
According to Flicek, doing drills are an important segment of the hospital’s operation. He also stated that the staff had proved to be rather brave.
Natasha Sundet, a nurse manager of 46 years of age working at the behavioral health center, showed up at the hospital following the movement of the patients. Sundet claimed she had barely recognized the building and the grounds surrounding it.
According to Sundet’s description, big pieces of metal were hanging from the building, and the entire area was covered in broken glass, trash, and parts of trees that had been broken by the wind. She continued, saying that cars with crashed windows had been moved from their parking places. Sundet stated that water had been flowing through the ceiling and into the building and that she had never witnessed such a thing.
According to Sundet, 39 patients of 102 in total who were transferred were adolescents.
She stated that there had been children aged 4 through 17 and that they had been quite scared and in shock.
According to the National Weather Service, the three EF-2 tornadoes hit the city overnight. Todd Heitkamp, the lead meteorologist, disclosed the information on Wednesday.
The tornadoes damaged or completely destroyed dozens of buildings, damaged power lines, and torn-up trees. However, not one person has since been reported dead or severely injured due to the effects of the storm. According to Flicek, seven people endured minor injuries caused by falling trash at the campus of the hospital, whereas one person was harmed outside of the building.
Taking into account that the city of Sioux Falls had not encountered a tornado since October 1996, the weather service personnel also ducked in order to protect themselves as the storm arrived, as claimed by Heitkamp.
To top it all off, there was a mistake regarding the outdoor warning system of the city. The majority of the sirens went off in southeastern Sioux Falls, which is where the most severe damage took place. However, the sirens were not activated in other areas of the city. According to Mayor Paul TenHaken, there was an alleged miscommunication among the members of the staff. He also promised that such a misunderstanding would not happen again.
He stated that it was his team, and therefore his administration, taking responsibility for the cited miscommunication.
The storm damaged or completely tore down at least 37 buildings, and the residents of the city have been requested not to go near the areas that were the most severely struck, as stated by Brad Goodroad, the Fire Chief at a news conference early on Wednesday.
Aside from the hospital, Advanced Auto Parts store was also seriously damaged, as a wall of the building collapsed. Additionally, Best Buy and Kohl’s lost parts of their roofs due to the effects of the storm, whereas Pizza Ranch sustained severe damage as well.
The Red Cross established a shelter at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds’ armory with the intention of housing people who were displaced by the occurrence. The city in which an approximate number of 190,000 people reside is located around 240 miles (390 kilometers) southwest of Minneapolis.
According to Xcel Energy, a total of 25,000 clients were without power following the storm, as power lines had been damaged. However, as stated by Xcel Energy, over two-thirds of that number had electricity on Wednesday morning.
Apparently, the rest of the state of South Dakota has not sustained any damage caused by the storm. According to certain reports delivered to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, there was flooding in Brule and Hutchinson counties. However, no assistance was required.
The weather service released a warning regarding possible dangerous thunderstorms on Wednesday across the Upper Midwest and the Plains. Minnesota, western Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin are likely to be affected by the thunderstorms. However, western Nebraska is at danger the most. Furthermore, the weather service also warned of likely flash flooding in the north-central area of the state.