A Tuesday night tornado in Sioux Falls, S.D., has left residents reeling. In its wake, extensive damage from the twister has left an Advanced Auto Parts store in shambles and also caused extensive damage to the Avera Heart Hospital.
"Shortly after that weather passed through, the city of Sioux Falls went into action and set up our emergency operations center, we've been in there for about four hours doing the assessment of what has happened, what we've seen with the damage," Mayor Paul TenHaken said in a press conference early Wednesday. "This happened when it was dark and it's still dark, so there's still a lot that we don't know until the sun comes up."
A tornado warning was issued by the National Weather Service shortly after 11 p.m. CDT Tuesday evening for Sioux Falls and surrounding areas, and the warning remained in effect until midnight. The NWS warned that wind gusts of at least 90 mph were possible with the storm and urged residents to take cover.
Shortly after the storms tore through the area, there were numerous reports and photos of extensive damage to trees, cars, homes and businesses around the city.
The Avera Behavioral Health Center was evacuated after suffering damage from the storm, while the Avera Heart Hospital saw its roof get ripped off from the intense winds. While there were no reports of casualties, the area's 911 system has been backed up and over 15,000 residents were left without power, according to poweroutage.us.
"There is significant damage throughout the city," TenHaken said. "We've heard of some large damage to places like Avera Behavioral Health and the 41st and Western area appears to be an area that was hit particularly hard as well. We're anxious for the sun to come up here so that we can get a better look at what we're facing."
The Sioux Falls Police Department issued a "No Travel Advisory" in the wake of the storms due to numerous downed power lines and trees covering roadways in southeastern parts of the city.
Motorists were urged to remain off roadways until emergency management crews cleaned up the debris.
Although the threat for severe weather has ended in southeastern South Dakota with the storms having moved into Iowa, flash flood warnings remain in effect into Wednesday afternoon following several inches of rain from Tuesday night's storms.
"The big thing that I want to stress today is that we have a very resilient city," TenHaken said. "I think resilient is word that greatly describes Sioux Falls and I want the citizens to know that you have an absolutely excellent team manning the emergency operations center. The city is in good hands and I'm very happy to report that, as of right now, we have no known casualties and no known serious injuries."