Simplified: Sioux Falls — and much of eastern South Dakota — was hit with what Gov. Kristi Noem called an “unprecedented” storm Thursday night with winds ranging from 70 to 105 mph. Here’s what you need to know in the aftermath.
Why it matters
- Two people have died and several others were injured, officials said Friday morning in a Sioux Falls press conference with the governor, Mayor Paul TenHaken and several other city and state officials.
- The storm caused damage in 28 counties statewide, and trees were downed in several areas of town. Winds hit Sioux Falls at around 5 p.m., and much of the damage was immediate.
- The storm also showed the importance of weather alerts. Sioux Falls residents received a severe thunderstorm warning at 4:40 p.m. Thursday, giving them about 22 minutes of lead time to take shelter before the storm hit. That time was critical, according to Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp with the National Weather Service.
“If you didn’t know this storm was coming, I ask you to take this time now to figure out why, to look to see that next time you’re not one of those people wondering where that storm came from … and there will be a next time," he said.
What do we know about the people who died?
One of them was 61-year-old Wendy Lape of Wentworth South Dakota.
- Lape and her husband were driving south of Colton when the storm hit, and wood came through the car window, striking Lape, who died from her injuries, according to Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead.
City and state officials have not yet released any information on the person who died in Sioux Falls, though Noem said Friday morning both confirmed deaths in the storm were among people who were in their cars.
What happens next?
Clean-up efforts are underway throughout the city. Crews are out clearing streets and repairing traffic signals.
- If you encounter a traffic light that isn’t functioning, treat it as a four-way stop.
Xcel Energy crews are also out restoring power.
- At one point last night there were 35,500 people without power in eastern South Dakota, but by Friday morning that number was down to about 10,000 (and even lower in Sioux Falls, where most had had power restored.
Statewide, Noem said all state agencies are responding to the aftermath of the storm.
- The governor also issued an emergency declaration in the hopes that — if certain thresholds are met — FEMA funds could be accessed to help counties pay for needed repairs after the storm.
Where can I find more information and resources?
The city created a landing page on its website to answer common questions. You can find that here.
Residents are also encouraged to call the 2-1-1 helpline for assistance or to report damage.
- The city and county are working to track the extent of damage, so, even if it’s damage you don’t need help cleaning or repairing, Emergency Manager Regan Smith asks that you still report it.
How do I know what I have to clean up and what the city will clean?
Trees or branches that fell in the road or the right-of-way are the city’s responsibility. Trees that fell in your yard are your responsibility.
There’s a handy little graphic from the city here.
Where can I take debris?
There are a couple of sites to take wood debris:
- 12th and Lyons behind the Taco Bell
- The landfill, where fees are waived,
- And Mueller Pallet at 27163 471st Avenue
Don’t pile wood at the curb. The city won’t come pick it up.
How can I better prepare for the next storm?
Make sure your phone alerts are working. If you did not receive an alert for last night’s storm, check with your cell phone provider.
- The National Weather Service also recommends having multiple ways to receive updates in the midst of a storm. Make a plan for how you’ll stay informed (e.g. weather radios, local media to follow, tuning into the National Weather Service website, etc.)
Have a plan for severe weather, and take alerts seriously.
Don’t wait for outdoor sirens to sound to take action on a severe storm. Those sirens are only activated when a tornado is confirmed, and even in those instances they’re only intended to let people who are outside know to get inside.
Have photos of damage? Or want to share your story of the storm?
Reach out to Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org.