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Wind, rain cause damage around region

Four tornadoes and heavy rain hit South Dakota late Sunday night, leaving flooding and wind damage in the wake. An evening thunderstorm passed through south-central South Dakota from about 8 to 11 p.m. Sunday, according to meteorologist Phil Schu...

Cecil Sachtjen, 55, of Winner, loads debris into a Bobcat on Monday after a Sunday tornado caused damage to a home southwest of Winner. (Jake Shama/Republic)
Cecil Sachtjen, 55, of Winner, loads debris into a Bobcat on Monday after a Sunday tornado caused damage to a home southwest of Winner. (Jake Shama/Republic)

Four tornadoes and heavy rain hit South Dakota late Sunday night, leaving flooding and wind damage in the wake.

An evening thunderstorm passed through south-central South Dakota from about 8 to 11 p.m. Sunday, according to meteorologist Phil Schumacher, of the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, bringing strong winds, heavy rain and large hail.

A tornado formed about 10 miles southwest of Winner, prompting reports of downed electrical lines and roof damage, and causing extensive damage to property owned by Teresa Novotny and Scott Hollenbeck.

Novotny and Hollenbeck's garage and calving barn were destroyed, and the twister also caused damage to the roof of their house.

"It wasn't as noisy as I've always heard. It was a racket, but it wasn't really loud," Hollenbeck said.

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Hollenbeck said he watched the funnel touch the ground and he went to the basement when it was less than one-quarter mile away. Hollenbeck, Novotny and their daughter, Winner High School student Sydney Hollenbeck, survived the storm without injury.

The damage to the family's property was broadcast over the radio in Winner, and more than a dozen family members and neighbors traveled to the ranch to clean up.

"Even though no one got killed or hurt, it's still going to take a long time to get back to square one, really," said Bill Hartland, 79, of Winner, who was on the scene to help. "They will (recover). They're strong people."

Schumacher said two tornadoes formed near Littleburg - near the South Dakota-Nebraska border in Todd County - and another formed near Herreid - near the South Dakota-North Dakota border in Campbell County.

"It's not unusual for us to get severe weather in late May," Schumacher said.

He said South Dakota's tornado season normally begins in mid-May, but tornadoes have also been reported in April.

High winds

Even in areas without a tornado, wind speeds reached as high as 60 mph, Schumacher said, accompanied by up to 1 1/2-inch hail.

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Jason Vaverka, 37, of White Lake, was at home with his family when wind gusts dropped a tree onto his SUV and tossed a trampoline into his neighbor's yard, causing damage to a sedan and a home window.

"It was like the first gust. It just - whoosh. It blew the door open. The kids went wild," Vaverka said. "I thought there was more coming, but it kind of died down."

The tree caused damage to the frame and windshield of the SUV, totaling the vehicle, but Vaverka said he, his wife and four kids are lucky it didn't hit the house or garage.

The family's trampoline was also destroyed, as the frame was bent and broken into pieces.

Winds also caused significant damage to a ranch near Colome - located between Winner and Gregory in Tripp County.

The storm tipped a semi-truck on the property onto its side and toppled a storage shed. The property owner was not available for comment.

Heavy rains

Alongside the wind was heavy rain, which caused flooding in Platte.

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Todd Strand, 41, of Platte, said he built his house on a hill almost four years ago to avoid flooding, but water still neared his doorstep as a river formed on Kansas Avenue.

"You could have hopped on here and rafted all the way to Main Street," Strand said.

Schumacher said Platte was the hardest hit by precipitation. The town saw more than 3 1/2 inches during the storm, compared to 1 inch in White Lake, about 2 inches near Colome and less than 1 inch in Winner.

Todd VanZee, 47, owner of TnT Auto Plex - a car dealership in Platte - said 2 feet of water filled his lot, damaging about three-fourths of his inventory.

"I think some of them will be totaled, definitely," VanZee said. "We're going to have to move all these to the back, I suppose, and start letting them air out, and then get the lot back in shape and sell them a little cheaper, I suppose."

The flood left debris in the grills of several vehicles, but VanZee was worried about his neighbors, saying a farmer just planted seeds in a field adjacent to his lot last week.

Platte has already seen heavy rain this spring, but flooding from Sunday's storm was far more severe than anything earlier this year. Still, VanZee expects to recover.

"We'll recover fast. I'll get the lot back in shape pretty fast," VanZee said. "Don't know with the vehicles. The future will tell."

Strand said the community has cut drainage ditches in the past and even set up sandbags around his neighbor's property, but residents will continue their efforts to waterproof the town.

"We've got a little work to do to try to curb the problem, I guess," Strand said. "We're just going to try to help fix the problem so it doesn't flood again."

Related Topics: WEATHER
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