SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – In a media briefing Friday morning, state and city officials provided an update on the extensive damage following Thursday night’s storm.
Governor Kristi Noem confirmed two fatalities as a result of the storm. Noem added that the deaths reported were people in vehicles and recommended people take shelter in future storm events.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead confirmed there was a fatality reported just south of Colton as a husband and wife were on their way home to Wentworth. A chunk of wood went through the window of the car and 61-year-old Wendy Lape died from her injuries Friday morning.
Friends of Annie Lanning, a Lincoln High School teacher, confirmed she died in the storm.
Thursday’s storm included a severe thunderstorm warning to everybody’s phones but sirens did not sound in the City of Sioux Falls. Mayor Paul TenHaken emphasized that tornado sirens only sound if there is a reported tornado, not for severe weather or hail.
“If you start to sound them too often, people start to disregard them,” TenHaken said.
Officials remind residents that when a warning is issued, people should take shelter, not head outside to watch the storm. TenHaken says the public has a responsibility to stay informed of their surroundings through their phones, local media, and warnings.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken says the city will have a website to answer questions regarding the storm and questions from residents. To start, the website will only be available in English but the city is working to add other languages.
The mayor wants residents to avoid downed power lines and to treat all intersections as four-way stops if the lights are not working.
Noem stated that as of this morning there were damage reports from 28 counties. An emergency operations center has been opened up.
The National Guard was activated Thursday and have been deployed to cities to help with storm cleanup. The Department of Corrections work release program will also send individuals to help with cleanup in communities.
Wildland fire crews are also on their way to Castlewood to assist in cleanup. Noem confirmed at least 60 homes had damage in the town.
“Check on your neighbors,” Noem said.
In addition to home damage, Noem said that 11 cellphone towers were damaged as a result of the storm and that is affecting cell service for many residents in eastern South Dakota.
At this time, tribal governments have not reached out to the state for emergency assistance but Noem said they will work with them if that changes.
Noem said that nursing home residents who were evacuated Thursday evening have found long-term living solutions following the storm.
Noem said there has never been a time like this where so many state agencies are on the ground responding to storm aftermath.
“Every agency is involved in some element,” Noem said.
City of Sioux Falls Emergency Manager Regan Smith said that agencies in Minnehaha County responded to more than 400 calls between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday.
Andy Berg says crews are restoring power in intersections across Sioux Falls. If you approach an intersection with no working traffic lights should be treated as four-way stops at this time.
Wood debris can be dropped off at 12th Street and Lyons or at the city landfill. Berg said the city is waiving fees.
Any debris smaller than 6 feet, Berg says they are asking volunteers to help clear branches from roads. Anything larger than 6 feet will be removed by the city.
A representative with Xcel Energy asks residents to avoid downed power lines. If there is an outage, residents should report it by calling 1-800-895-1999.
Officials are asking residents to avoid power lines.
Kristi Turman with the Department of Public Safety said the state is assessing whether they meet qualifications for FEMA assistance at this time. The state must document $1.63 per capita or $1.44 million and each county must document $4.10 per capita to qualify for the declaration.
Turman recommends that homeowners work with insurance agent as well as reporting to the emergency manager to understand the damage of homes in their area.