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People walk around downtown Rapid Cit Saturday. South Dakota emergency agencies were asking snowmobile operators in the Rapid City area to help find motorists stranded by an autumn storm. The National Weather Service says the storm dumped at least three and a half feet of wet, heavy snow in the Black Hills. Rapid City had 21 inches, but 31 inches was recorded just a mile southwest of the city. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Benjamin Brayfield)

Storm leads to death of rural Deadwood man; thousands still without power

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RAPID CITY (AP) — A weekend storm that dumped up to 4 feet of snow in the Black Hills of western South Dakota, cut electricity to tens of thousands of people and brought travel to a standstill also contributed to at least one death.

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A rural Deadwood resident collapsed while cleaning snow off his roof and later died, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office told KEVN-TV. Authorities did not immediately identify the person.

Schools and public offices in western South Dakota remained closed on Monday as officials worked to clean up from the record-setting storm. The shutdowns included public schools in Rapid City, Spearfish, Lead and Belle Fourche, as well as Black Hills State University in Spearfish, and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City. Garbage and recycling collection also was suspended for the day in Rapid City.

Meanwhile, thousands of homes remained without power on Monday. Black Hills Power says it has restored electricity to more than 15,000 customers in the wake of the storm, but about 14,000 customers remain in the dark.

The utility says in a statement that more than a dozen line crews from South Dakota, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming are on the job, and additional crews and equipment from other utilities are being brought in.

The storm dumped up to 4 feet of snow in parts of western South Dakota, downing electrical lines and power poles. Grand Electric Cooperative tells the Rapid City Journal that more than 1,500 poles are down in the Bison area alone.

The 19 inches of snow that fell in Rapid City on Friday broke the city's 94-year-old one-day snowfall record for October by about 9 inches, the National Weather Service reported. The city also set a record for snowfall in October, with a total of 23.1 inches during the storm. The previous record was 15.1 inches in October 1919.

The storm downed hundreds of power poles — Grand Electric Cooperative told the Rapid City Journal that it had more than 1,500 poles down in the Bison area alone. Black Hills Power said in a statement late Sunday that it had restored electricity to more than 15,000 customers but about 14,000 customers remained in the dark.

"One of our biggest challenges is getting access to areas that are still snowed in," said Vance Crocker, vice president of operations for Black Hills Power.

"Safety is our No. 1 concern for both our customers and employees working in this treacherous terrain," he said. "We are working closely with emergency management teams, county and city officials in our restoration efforts, and are using all available resources."

Hundreds of workers from South Dakota, Montana, Colorado and Wyoming were on the job, and additional crews and equipment from other utilities were being brought in, Black Hills Power said.

Emergency officials in Rapid City and Pennington County in a statement late Sunday asked area residents to allow another day for cleanup work such as road-plowing. Rapid City Council members planned to meet with public safety officials at mid-day Monday to discuss the storm and the cleanup efforts.

The Red Cross has been sheltering people in Rapid City, Spearfish, Lead and Deadwood. More volunteers and equipment from across South Dakota and North Dakota were scheduled to arrive Monday.

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