SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It was one year ago Friday that a massive wall of wind called a derecho swept through Sioux Falls and surrounding communities causing widespread damage. But you don’t have to remind residents in the McKennan Park neighborhood of the grim anniversary. That devastating storm is still fresh in their memories.
Well-manicured lawns are a trademark among the stately homes in the McKennan Park area. But the derecho that struck one year ago turned this scenic neighborhood into debris-filled landscape overwhelmed by toppled trees and fallen branches.
“It was like a tornado had gone through and knocked so many trees and lamp posts down, it was very scary,” homeowner Mary Ridder said.
Mary Ridder was driving home when she was caught in the storm.
“I had the derecho right behind me in my rear view mirror and I looked up and it was this black, dark cloud coming at me and I was stuck in traffic and it came all around me and all of the wind, it was very scary, it was not a pleasant experience,” Ridder said.
The wind knocked down a large tree in Ridder’s yard.
“And it just narrowly missed our home, like brushed up against the corner of it,” Ridder said.
Down the street, the wind knocked Josh Ryan’s 60-foot tall pine tree onto his neighbor’s porch roof.
“It’s just kind of a shock. You feel bad. It feels like it’s our fault, but obviously it wasn’t. Just kind of a freak of nature. But everybody’s okay, nobody got hurt so we feel good about that but it’s just kind of shocking,” Ryan said.
It took weeks for many of the homeowners to clean up the storm damage. They miss all the trees in their neighborhood that haven’t been replaced in the storm’s aftermath.
“I can’t even believe it’s been a year already. But you can definitely tell that the foliage is not here anymore, and that’s a little empty,” Ridder said.
These days, whenever the skies turn dark and the weather looks a little threatening, thoughts of the devastation from one year ago come creeping back into the memories of the people who live here.
“It certainly is a reminder that we can’t control nature and we just gotta adjust accordingly,” Ryan said.
Both Ryan and Ridder say they had never heard of a derecho before last year. Neither of them have replaced the trees they lost. Instead, they’ve turned the empty space into a play area for their kids.