Sioux Falls heavily damaged during storm, no serious injuries reported

SIOUX FALLS, SD - Authorities in Sioux Falls say a no-travel advisory in the city was lifted at 8 a.m. after a massive storm went through Tuesday night and in the early morning hours Wednesday. Authorities have asked anyone who does not need to be in areas with heavy damage to stay away.

The storm did not appear to result any deaths or serious injuries, but it did leave dozens of buildings damaged or destroyed. Mayor Paul TenHaken says there have been a few minor injuries reported, but none were serious.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp called the storm a "nightmarish situation." He said while one confirmed tornado touched down, it is possible more than one hit. Heitkamp said likely most of the damage was caused by straight line winds.

The first tornado warning came at 11:04 p.m., he said, and the first confirmed sighting was at 11:38 p.m.

According to TenHaken, sirens in the city were activated, but a breach in protocol caused a problem in that not all of the sirens in the city sounded. An internal investigation into that breach is underway, but TenHaken said the city recognizes and is owning that problem. Right now, he said, the focus  is public safety.

Heitkamp reminded people that sirens are meant as warning systems for people who are outdoors. It is important that people have multiple methods of information during weather events, including weather radios, access to media, and cell phone alert systems.

Director of Public Works Mark Cotter said the areas between Marion Road and Cliff Avenue, and from 26th Street to 85th Street were the hardest hit. He said so far, the city has confirmed 37 structures collapsed or had structural issues due to the storm.

Electric crews are working to restore power and likely bringing in outside crews to assist. At one point, about 25,000 homes and businesses were without power.

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