It was just another snowstorm in the Black Hills for Tye Johnson and his family until the trees started to fall.
"First it started with the little trees, you know, about a foot in diameter, and then the bigger ones started crashing down after that. That was pretty insane. I never expected some of these trees to come down," Johnson said.
There was a lot of the unexpected in the two-day blizzard that raged across western South Dakota last week. While life is getting back to normal in most of the Black Hills, the recovery is only beginning in the secluded community of Thunderhead Falls along Rapid Creek west of Rapid City.
"We have no power, and thus we have no water, because we have the underground systems and we need the power to pump the water into our homes," said Sherry Denke, a resident of Thunderhead Falls.
Denke and her husband were away from home when the storm hit. They came back to a mess of fallen trees, tangled power lines and damaged homes. She said the blizzard was the worst they've seen since moving to the community in 1965.
"It's been pretty trying," Denke said.
Without power and with trees falling, Tye Johnson, his wife and their two small children took shelter at their in-laws across the street. That's where they spent two days huddled with other family members near a single heat source.
"Yep, just hung out by the fireplace and pulled creek water from the creek to flush the toilet and that kind of thing, and just tried to survive and stay warm for a couple of days," Johnson said.
The Johnsons are now staying in a hotel, waiting for the electricity to be restored so they can return home.
"There's a lot of power lines down. And I have no idea when the power's coming back. But hopefully someday," Johnson said.
Hope holds the residents of Thunderhead Falls together, as they wait for the power they need to recover from the storm.