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Salem nursing home residents safely relocated after building’s roof torn off during Thursday’s storms

Avantara Salem permanently relocated current residents to other company facilities in Arlington, Armour, Huron and Norton. The residents arrived at their destinations by 12:30 a.m. on May 13, 2022.

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Debris covers the floor of the Avantara nursing home in Salem after the roof was ripped of from a deadly derecho that struck eastern South Dakota on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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SALEM, S.D. — All residents of a Salem nursing home that suffered extensive damage during Thursday’s derecho have been safely relocated, the nursing home announced Friday evening.

On Thursday, a strong system of severe thunderstorms produced wind gusts of over 85 mph, according to BJ Stiefvater, emergency manager for McCook County. With the storm came periods of heavy rain, hail and darkness, all of which combined to produce significant damage to structures across the city of Salem.

In the path of destruction was Avantara Salem, a long-term care and rehabilitation facility on the city’s east end. Strong winds ripped the structure’s roof off, ravaging the contents of what appeared to be the facility’s community room.

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Debris covers the floor of the Avantara nursing home in Salem after the roof was ripped of from a deadly derecho that struck eastern South Dakota on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

“Once the tornado alarms sounded, the staff jumped into action and moved residents to safety, following their emergency preparedness protocol,” a press release from Avantara reads. “Due to the fast action of the Avantara employees, local EMS crews, and community emergency response members, there were no injuries.”

Area residents on Thursday told the Mitchell Republic that Avantara appeared to be the structure most damaged in town. Stiefvater confirmed Friday afternoon that there were no injuries throughout McCook County.

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“Our top priority at Avantara is resident and employee safety. I want to highlight and thank the fast response from the staff, led by our Director of Nursing Sarah Galloway, and their unwavering commitment to keeping the residents safe,” said Ashley Nickel, administrator of Avantara Salem. “They are true heroes, and their diligence saved the resident’s lives.”

After receiving an all-clear from local officials, the facility evacuated residents to the Salem armory roughly one mile across town. A facility representative contacted residents’ families and provided details and contact information for their loved ones.

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Roof of the Avantara nursing home in Salem litters the yard after being torn off after a deadly derecho struck eastern South Dakota on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

“I would like to thank our network and their leaders and staff who dropped everything to help and Coreline Pipes of Spencer, who is assisting with heavy debris removal,” said Connie Ortega, vice president of operations. “They exemplify what it means to be a good neighbor. Also, a huge thank you to the community responders and the Armour ombudsman, who have continued to show up with items for residents.”

Avantara Salem permanently relocated current residents to other company facilities in Arlington, Armour, Huron and Norton. The residents arrived at their destinations by 12:30 a.m. on May 13, 2022.

Avantara Salem will begin working with families on long-term care plans beginning next week.

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The patio of Avantara nursing home in Salem covered in debris after a deadly derecho struck eastern South Dakota on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Related Topics: SALEMSEVERE WEATHER
Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "Mitchell Republic." Often, the "Mitchell Republic" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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