Support and Reflection After Tornadoes Hit Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.-Weeks after the tornadoes hit Sioux Falls, support is still rolling in. City officials were surprised this week by a special pick-me-up from far away. 1,300 miles away in West Virginia, second graders at Skyview Elementary heard about the tornadoes. So they sent the city some hand drawn art.

“Just wanted to send pictures and notes of support and prayers and it was just really cool to get that on a Monday morning and know that people on the other side of the country were watching what was going on in South Dakota and that these kiddos took the time to reach out to our office,” said Mayor Paul TenHaken. 

As the mayor looks at the pictures and reflects back on the storm, he’s pleased with the city’s response.

“If I had to score how the city did, I’d give us an A minus. You know, I think the city did a great job overall on the response,” said TenHaken. 

He says he’s most proud of the community.

“Our city overall was 90-95 percent cleaned up within ten days of three EF-2 tornadoes coming into the city,” said TenHaken. 

“It was non-profits, it was neighbors helping neighbors, it was schools, it was the colleges and their students coming out to help. So really just reinforced the resiliency of the city and the hearts of the city to want to help one another.

Since the storm, Emergency Manager Regan Smith has been working on this damage assessment map of structural damage done to homes and businesses. 

“It does show you how widespread it was and how large of an event it was and it really affected a big portion of the city of Sioux Falls,” said Smith. 

He will present the map to FEMA. 

“To determine if the requested declaration is warranted, so we can bring assistance to homeowners, business owners and the city of Sioux Falls.”

Smith says this was a learning experience for the city. 

“The basic structure is very sound and definitely we just need to tweak some small things, some communication things,” said Smith. 

Next week city leaders will meet to discuss what areas they can improve on when it comes to disaster response. But the response they’ve gotten from some caring kids, gives them a lot to smile about.

 Although most of the mess from the tornadoes has been cleaned up, there’s still work that will be happening over the next few months. Debris drop-off sites are still open at 1015 East Chambers Street and 100 North Lyon Boulevard. They have been converted into leaf drop off sites, but residents can still take debris there. The city is also developing a plan to bring in a contractor to move big stumps and trees in the city boulevards and repair damaged sidewalks.

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