Lexi Schnaser – Staff Writer
Late in the evening of September 10th, a tornado touched ground in Sioux Falls, SD. This tornado was the first twister in South Dakota’s largest city since 1989. Classified as an EF-2 tornado, its top winds measured at 125 mph. No one suffered severe injuries; however, quite a few businesses in southern Sioux Falls were damaged by the tornado, including Pizza Ranch, the Plaza 41 shopping center, Advanced Auto Parts, and Best Buy.
Many of the tornado sirens in Sioux Falls did not go off, leaving residents to rely on the radio, smartphone, or TV for weather updates.
This bout of severe weather was not limited to Sioux Falls. In the few days following the Sioux Falls tornado, towns such as Mitchell and Salem received nearly seven inches of rain, causing severe flooding.
Due to the flooding, many county roads, as well as parts of I-80 were closed because they had washed out from the river. Vanessa Hofer, a freshman at Dordt University, lives near Salem, and her home suffered devastating flooding.
“It was heartbreaking to see the destruction. We could only plant on a third of our land this spring, and to lose some more of our crops from the flooding is devastating,” says Hofer.
She says there were so many roads that were closed due to flooding the county ran out of “Road Closed” signs. In the Mitchell area, there are many bridges that are closed and must be entirely rebuilt before they can be used again. There are still some local roads that are closed for the time being.
Hofer travelled home this weekend and witnessed the damage herself. “It was worse than I thought it would be. I could see why the local schools had to be closed. It was too dangerous to get around anywhere.”
Dordt University takes precautions against severe weather by posting tornado shelter signs around campus, as well as notifying students and faculty to take shelter by defense siren, radio, TV, or administration personnel.