Avera Behavioral Health Center Recovering From Storm Damage

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Avera Health is starting to recover and slowly get everything back to normal after three tornadoes hit the city two weeks ago. A number of Avera’s facilities fell victim to the storm, including the Behavioral Health Center, which officials say sustained the most damage. 

“There was debris literally everywhere within a half mile of here. There was glass, there was installation, there was metal, just kind of debris thrown throughout,” said Thomas Otten, Vice President of Avera Behavioral Health.

Now they are focused on rebuilding. They have a crew of around 60 people working long hours to clean up the mess. 

The link between the Avera Heart Hospital and Behavioral Health is closed. It’s lined with windows that were blown out leaving glass shattered all over the ground outside.

“The company came in, they actually vacuumed. What looked like a mower, but it’s a vacuum. Vacuum up all that glass and then go through and kind of handpick everything that might have possibly missed. So it’s been a very big process to that. It’s looking much, much better today than it did previously,” said Otten.

Inside the Behavioral Health Center inpatient clinics were also hit hard. Tiles hung from the ceiling, carpets were soaked, and there was debris everywhere. Crews have since taken out the carpet and removed some of the ceilings, which will have to be replaced. 

One adult inpatient clinic is back up and running with 28 patients. Two more are set to open late October.

Avera Health still has a ways to go to get back to normal, but in the end they are just grateful for how the situation turned out. 

“The way the community has responded and reached out to help us in many ways is a fantastic thing. The way our staff responded on that night to keep everyone alive was an amazing thing. The way that we didn’t have any loss of life was a very powerful thing. You know a building can be rebuilt, people can not,” said Otten. 

Otten says Avera Behavioral Health is fully operational. Some inpatient services are just being offered somewhere else for the time being. Avera McKennan hospital over on Cliff Avenue has temporary units set up for pediatrics. Services are also being offered at the Human Services Center in Yankton. 

Otten hopes to have everything opened back up at the Avera Behavioral Health Center within six to nine months. 



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