Sioux Falls remembers devastating tornadoes two years ago

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Two years ago tomorrow Sioux Falls experienced one of its worst natural disasters.

It was late September 10th, 2019 when three tornadoes tore through the southern part of the city leaving a path of destruction in their wakes.

One of the worst hit businesses along 41st Street was the Pizza Ranch.

“It’s just crazy to think it was two years ago already,” Pizza Ranch co-owner Mike Pharis said.

To see the devastation from the sky, it’s still hard to believe no one was seriously injured or killed.

Co-owner of the Pizza Ranch, Mike Pharis and his General Manager were just closing up for the night when the tornado hit.

Surveillance video captured those terrifying moments.

“We were about to take cover in the walk-in cooler and by the time we got to that door it was all over,” Pharis said.

It took 15 months to rebuild and reopen the popular family restaurant.

“We made a thousand little tweaks to our store that made it more functional,” Pharis said.

Like this long hallway to the Fun Zone, which also took a devastating hit.

“We had just expanded the Fun Zone the day the tornado hit; we had just installed seven or eight new games, we just had the last one set up a couple of hours before the tornado hit, we really didn’t get to use any of those games,” Pharis said.

Andy Skrondaho is the Fun Zone manager.

“I get a little emotional, because I uh,” Skrondaho said.

He’s worked at Pizza Ranch for six years. He wasn’t here the night of the tornado, but was devastated for multiple reasons and feared he was out of a job.

“I was like great I just got a brand new-used 2014 Chevy Silverado truck, I was like how am I going to do payments on this my works destroyed,” Skrondaho said.

Skrondaho says he loves working at the restaurant, because they treat him like family.

After his grandpa died, he remembers reaching out to the Pizza Ranch owners for help.

“I asked Mike if I could borrow some boxes to pack stuff up so we could keep stuff and he’s been there ever since,” Skrondaho said.

That’s why he and so many other employees decided to stay, even during a tumultuous time, that was no fun and games.

While Pizza Rach was rebuilding, they were able to keep paying all of the employees and during that time, they took the opportunity to volunteer at least once a month at various non-profits.

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