A powerful tornado has left a trail of destruction in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, toppling trees, knocking out power to thousands and seriously damaging both area hospitals, officials said.
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No deaths or serious injuries were reported after the overnight twister, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said Wednesday morning. Thirty-seven structures collapsed or have major integrity issues, according to officials.
The Avera Behavioral Health Hospital, one of the damaged hospitals, said all patients were safe and some were moved to other facilities, according to a hospital spokesperson. Several people there suffered minor injuries from the roof collapsing, said the hospital’s president and CEO, David Flicek.
With so much debris on the roads, a “No Travel Advisory” was issued in the city. The advisory was lifted at 8 a.m. Wednesday but police urged drivers to use caution “as there may be areas still impacted, unreported downed power lines, tree debris, or other road hazards.”
Bad idea: rear end a police car stopping traffic for downed power line.
Worse idea: doing the above while drunk.
Fortunately, the officer only received minor injuries. The driver was arrested for DWI. /713 pic.twitter.com/4sRdkavjao
— Sioux Falls Police (@siouxfallspd) September 11, 2019
A total of nine tornadoes were reported in Wyoming and two in South Dakota as severe weather struck the region Tuesday night.
A preliminary tornado survey indicates a brief EF-2 tornado touched down in Sioux Falls around 11:30 p.m. with winds estimated at 125 mph.
Julie Mericle “was laying in bed watching TV and it sounded like a freight train over the house,” she told Sioux Falls ABC affiliate KSFY.
“So I got up, dashed into my closet and it felt like the roof was going to come off,” Mericle said, adding that a tree fell on her house.
The tornado warnings began at 11:00 p.m. CST, officials said. Only some of the sirens in town were activated, which the mayor attributed to human error.
Lots of damage across Sioux Falls. Please do not travel right now! Lots of power lines down, trees and tons of debris. Just saw firefighters putting out a fire that was lit by a downed wire. @ksfynews pic.twitter.com/QBhwxiMLrs
— Ricardo Lewis (@RicardoKSFY) September 11, 2019
Some power has been restored in the area Wednesday morning but it’s expected to take most of the day to get power back throughout the city, a community manager said.
Schools began on a two-hour delay Wednesday, the mayor said.
And the threat is not over. On Wednesday, severe weather threats are expanding east and south, now reaching from Wyoming to Wisconsin. The biggest threats will be damaging winds, huge hail and possibly tornadoes.
ABC News’ Will Gretsky and Ahmad Hemingway contributed to this report.
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