Mitchell property owner looks to rebuild after early January blizzard leveled warehouse building

“I’ve never seen a snow storm take down one of my buildings like this one did,” Arlen Schuh said of the early January blizzard that hammered Mitchell with 23 inches of snow over two days.

A slab of concrete remains on the piece of land that previously housed a Mitchell building that was destroyed from the early January blizzard.
Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — A local property owner whose building was destroyed by the early January blizzard that pummeled Mitchell with 23 inches of snow is in the process of rebuilding.

On Monday, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved Arlen Schuh’s variance request that brought him one step closer to putting up a new building on the west edge of Mitchell.

The severe damage the building sustained from the Jan. 2-3 blizzard Mitchell prompted Schuh to tear the roughly 6,000-square-foot structure down with the goal of building anew.

As a lifelong Mitchell resident, Schuh has experienced plenty of rough winters. But none of them brought the type of destruction that he saw on his properties this winter.

“I’ve never seen a snow storm take down one of my buildings like this one did,” Schuh said. “This one must have just had the right amount of heavy, heavy snow to do what it did to my building. It just took it out.”


Mitchell's Elijah Maska snow blows his driveway clean during a blizzard on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

According to Schuh, the blizzard destroyed a little over 75% of the entire structure, which served as a warehouse for a bread company at that time. The second day of the storm alone brought roughly 17 inches of snowfall, marking the second highest single-day total ever recorded in Mitchell's history.

City Planner Mark Jenniges said any structure that sustains damage amounting to more than 75% of the building requires a variance for the property owner to rebuild.

The only thing remaining from the previous structure is the concrete floor. Schuh said the concrete floor being intact eliminates more work to rebuild, as the foundation is ready for a new structure. Schuh estimates the project will cost around $20,000.

“I’m basically putting back the same building on the concrete slab where a building has been for 75 years,” Schuh said. “I have to move the plumbing and septic.”

Schuh’s building was one of several in the area that sustained major damage from the historic early January blizzard.

Mitchell received 17.2 inches of snow on Tuesday, Jan. 3 — the second-most all-time in a single day of snow on record for the city.

On the south edge of the city, the roof of a Trail-Eze building caved in during the winter storm. Roughly 10 miles south of Mitchell, a dairy farmer in Ethan had a building collapse.

Schuh’s plan to construct a new building was met with support among neighboring properties, including Mueller Lumber and Meyers Oil Company.

The Mitchell City Council will consider approving the variance request at its next meeting in early June.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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