SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — This week marks the four-year anniversary of three EF-2 tornadoes briefly touching down in Sioux Falls
A line of thunderstorms also produced straight-line winds of 80 to 100 miles an hour.
In Sioux Falls, businesses on 41 Street and a few miles away the Avera campus near I-229 took the brunt of the destruction.
Security cameras inside the Pizza Ranch captured the force of one of the tornadoes.
The popular restaurant and arcade near 41st and Kiwanis suffered significant damage.
It took 15 months to rebuild and reopen. Owner Todd Pharis remembers the devastation.
“I couldn’t believe, it looked like a third-world country, you know and not just us but every business at Plaza 41 was a complete disaster,” said Pharis.
The storm also hit the Avera Health complex along 69th Street hard. We saw what it was like inside the Behavioral Health building when the twister hit. A cloud of dust then you see debris falling from the ceiling and blowing around. Another security camera shows an entire glass wall collapsing. Next door at the heart hospital, doctors and nurses were saving lives as the tornado hit.
“We had patients in the emergency department patients in our inpatient beds, so our focus was not how to shut down; our focus was how to stay operational and functional, so we bought 320 sheets of plywood,” said Gibbs.
That plywood was placed over the hundreds of windows the tornado blew out, allowing the hospital to continue life-saving treatments.
“The amount of devastation in the facility was just amazing you should be able to see the sun the next morning shining through the roof,” said the Emergency Department Director Nancy Fisher.
Cosmetically and structurally both Avera and Pizza Ranch are back better than ever after repairs and remodels. For those who went through the storms, even four years later, there is a healthy respect for the power of Mother Nature.
“It is just so amazing the strength of what a tornado can do,” said Fisher.
Shortly before the tornado Pizza Ranch owner Todd Pharis had increased his insurance coverage.
Because of that he was able to rebuild and pay his employees for the entire 15 months Pizza Ranch was closed for repairs.