SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) –The 21st century began with the largest wildfire South Dakota had ever seen. The Jasper fire burned more than 83,000, and started what would become the worst streak of wildfires in state history.

Over the next few years, crews would be called to the Battle Creek Fire, near the Black Hills Children’s home, and the Grizzly Gulch Fire, which forced evacuations of Lead and Deadwood.

Grizzly Gulch destroyed a handful of home homes, leaving only fireplaces standing.

In 2007, crews battled the deadly Alabaugh fire, near Hot Springs

“We’ve got extremes that we’ve never seen recorded in South Dakota.”

“It’s a sad day for America, it really is.”

On September 11th, 2001, terrorists attacked the U.S., crashing commercial planes filled with passengers into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon and into a Pennsylvania field… and the pain could be felt nationwide.

In Sioux Falls, a handwritten sign went up at the airport as passengers gathered around TVs.

Local students watched history unfold in their classrooms…

And, people quickly came together to help the victims by raising money for the American Red Cross.

Even politicians sent a unified message.

“And we will speak with one voice to condemn these attacks…”

Cars lined up outside gas stations because people were afraid prices were going to surge. By nightfall many local stations were running out of gas.

“I drove around everywhere, just looking for some empty place and everywhere there’s just lines.”

From local military bases to Mount Rushmore… after 9-11 we faced more security than ever before.

It was a time of deployments and welcome home ceremonies.

“Dylan do you see daddy? There he is is Dylan, he’s right there.” “Daddy, Daddy!” “How you doing?”

Thousands of South Dakotans served in the war on terror.

Some never made it home.

“A tornado outbreak is making for a menacing evening tonight and it’s wiped Manchester, South Dakota. Our reporters on the scene say the tiny town is flattened.”

On June 24th, 2003 an F4-tornado tore through Manchester.

It was one of 67-twisters to touch down in KELOLAND during the seven hour-long outbreak that would later become known as Tornado Tuesday.

On August 16th, 2003 Congressman Bill Janklow ran a stop sign in Moody County and collided with a motorcycle, killing Randy Scott.

“I’m just trying to cope with the present and I still don’t know how to do that.”

Janklow was charged with manslaughter and sentenced to 100-days in jail. It was the end of his decades-long political career.

In 2004, back to back downpours submerged central Sioux Falls, turning streets into rivers and yards into lakes.

“This was all gone, I mean there was so much force that it took the step, it all floated away,” said Gary Ivers.

It was considered one of the worst natural disasters the city had ever seen.

Over the next few years, the city spent 40 million dollars removing old trees and replacing outdated storm sewers to prevent future floods.

In 2004, South Dakota’s U.S. Senate race made national headlines.

Voters came out in droves to decide between Republican John Thune and Tom Daschle, who was the Senate’s top Democrat. Thune ended up winning the race with just 50.6 % of the vote.

“To those, this evening, who voted across South Dakota for me, I say thank you. I am honored by your support and I will work, very hard to be deserving of your vote.”
Republican John Thune

It was the first and last election Daschle ever lost.

Two years later came a political story no one could have predicted.

Senator Tim Johnson suffered a brain bleed, underwent emergency surgery and months of rehabilitation.

“Wow, you guys are a sight for sore eyes.”

In August of 2006 he returned to South Dakota for the first time in months. A short time later he announced he was running for re-election.

In 2007, protestors stood with signs outside the state penitentiary ahead of South Dakota’s first execution in 60-years.

Elijah Page’s father spoke in the hours leading up to his son’s death.

“He knows right from wrong. He knows what he did is wrong. That’s why he’s on death row now.”

Page died by lethal injection for his role in the 2000 murder of Chester Allan Poage .

That same month, the National Science Foundation announced it selected the old Homestake Gold Mine for the site of a multi-million dollar underground science laboratory. It’s now known as the Sanford Underground Research Facility.