Tornado Hits South Dakota Town, Destroying Buildings And Trapping People

Updated: One person was confirmed injured and the National Guard was deployed after a tornado caused massive damage in a South Dakota town Wednesday.

1. A violent storm spawned several tornadoes Wednesday in South Dakota near the town of Wessington Springs.

4. According to storm chasers and local media, the storm wreaked havoc on a suburban area. CNN reported that people were trapped in the wreckage.

Wessington Springs is on lockdown people are trapped in rubble. From @ksfynews newsroom

— Shawn Cable (@shawncable)

Everyone accounted for. Only minor injuries as far as I know. This house was swept off foundation.

— Chad Cowan (@stormtimelapse)

8. Storm chaser Jason Cooley told BuzzFeed he drove through Wessington Springs just after the storm hit.

Cooley didn’t see the tornado itself hit the town, but he did witness widespread destruction. About 75% of the buildings were damaged, and 25% significantly. There was debris strewn throughout the town. Vehicles had their windows smashed. “Mostly everything we saw was damaged in some way or another,” he said.

Cooley later saw the tornado weaken and dissipate after he had left the town.

Alpena, SD #tornado roped out at 8:30pm. #sdwx

— Jason Cooley (@DrTornadoCooley)

Rope tornado now north west of damaged suburban area. Search and rescue still going,Everyone so far @JWSevereWeather

— Ethan Mulnix (@Tornadochaser91)

People trapped please send help

— Chad Cowan (@stormtimelapse)

12. One person was hospitalized in the aftermath Wednesday.

Lindsey Meyers, a spokeswoman for Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital, told BuzzFeed that only one person was being treated for injuries following the tornado strike in Wessington Springs. That person was in good condition, Meyers added. The hospital and a nursing home suffered minor damage including broken windows during the tornado, but remained operational. They were running on backup power.

As of about 10:15 p.m. CT, most people in the town had been accounted for, Meyers said. She praised local search and rescue for their efforts getting people out of the wreckage.

Very very bad situation here IN SD

— Ethan Mulnix (@Tornadochaser91)

14. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard deployed the National Guard Wednesday in response to the storm.

I have deployed 100 @SD_Guard soldiers and equipment to Wessington Springs and the Red Cross is also on the way.

— Gov. Dennis Daugaard (@SDGovDaugaard)

16. Isabelle Mae lives in Wessington Springs and said the tornado leveled both of the town’s bars.

Mae said she was at work when the tornado sirens went off Wednesday — a sound she likened to the noise made by aliens in the movie War of the Worlds. When Mae returned home later she learned that her home had survived but part of the roof on her barn had been lifted off by the wind.

Among other things, Mae said, the storm destroyed both of the towns bars — one of which was where Mae had her first drink. By 11 p.m. CT, people in the town were already helping clear away the wreckage.

DAMAGE PIC: Cars flattened by a structure in Wessington Springs, SD. #Tornado #Damage

— Braxton Womack (@BraxtonWomackWX)

Taken near Stan's Inc. in Alpena. Thanks so Lori Haak for the photo. #sdwx

— Shawn Cable (@shawncable)

19. Wessington Springs is less than 200 miles from Coleridge, Neb., where a massive slow-moving tornado touched down Tuesday. Pilger, Neb., where two people died Monday, is also in the same region.

View this embed ›

21. Tornado watches remained in effect for the region through Wednesday evening.

TVN Weather / Via

A satellite image of Wednesday’s storm in South Dakota.

23. The damage in Wessington Springs occurred after storm chasers witnessed other tornadoes touch down in the area Wednesday.

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Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at
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