Avera Health Buildings Sustain Direct Hits From Sioux Falls Tornadoes

(KCCR) — The National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls has confirmed three tornadoes touched down late Tuesday night in Sioux Falls as 100 plus mile-an-hour winds ripped through the city. Todd Heitkamp at the Sioux Falls office of the Weather Service says he’s been worried for years about a night like Tuesday night…

“This was, I will be honest with you, kind of my nightmarish scenario for many, many years of a tornado-type of situation like this occurring on the southern section of Sioux Falls late at night.  Thankfully all the systems on our side of it, the National Weather Service work, the way they were supposed to be.  All weather radio transmitters were activated; all cell phones were activated as well.  I’m sure all of you were woke up at that point in time if you were a sleep that the wireless emergency alert system worked the way it was supposed to as well.”
An Avera Health campus in southern Sioux Falls took a direct hit from one of the twisters. Avera McKennan Hospital President Dave Flicek multiple Avera properties were affected…

“Avera Heart Hospital and the clinic.  The Avera Behavioral Health and clinic, our Sports Dome and the facility of our corporate office also is out of commission so kinda went right through that area.  We talk at our hospital about doing drills.  I gotta tell you, our staff was courageous.  That had 10-minutes to wake up 102 residents, get ’em to the center of the building and all are safe and sound so we’re very pleased with that.”
He says Avera will need to make some long-term plans because of some damage…

“Behavioral Health Hospital probably will not be open for another three to six months.  So we’re gonna have to figure out how to handle our behavioral health patients.  Some will stay on campus at Avera McKennan, but we’re working with state officials right now to help us with the logistics of the…what we’re going to do there.”

Avera Heart Hospital President Mick Gibbs says the E-F-Two tornado was not going to get in the way of patient care…

“In the middle of the tornado we had a patient who had a severe cardiac event.  Had his life saved right in the middle of the tornado.  So while we have cancelled elective procedures today and clinic appointments, we are busying ourselves with the work of getting our building ready to take patients as soon as tomorrow (Thursday) and the full operations by the middle of next week.”
Officials say 37 structures were destroyed in the storm. All three tornadoes currently confirmed by the National Weather Service have been rated E-F Two. Additional surveys are being conducted to see if additional tornadoes may have touched down.  Governor Kristi Noem toured damaged areas Wednesday.