Tornado tears through Sioux Falls, no major damage reported at Augustana

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as we learn more about damages and student experiences. Have pictures to share or a perspective to tell? DM your thoughts to us @augiemirror on Twitter or Instagram. This is why student news matters.

A tornado moving through southeastern Sioux Falls prompted many students both on and off-campus to seek shelter late Tuesday night.

As of 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, all students are safe and accounted for, according to an email from Augustana University. 

“Our campus safety officers continue to assess potential damage in and around campus,” the email said. “Current reports show that there are some tree branches down. The interiors of campus buildings will be checked as well.”

On Twitter, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken urged residents to stay indoors, avoid driving on city roads and to leave 911 phone lines open for serious emergencies only.

The tornado touched down at 11:41 p.m. Tuesday night near Western Avenue and 85th Street, Philip Schumacher, a science and operations officer with the National Weather Service, told the Argus Leader. A flash flood warning is still in effect until 6:15 a.m. as of 2:20 a.m.

“We don’t know how far the tornado tracked. We will go out tomorrow morning after daylight to assess that,” Schumacher told the Argus Leader. “There are trees down and at least damage to some homes are damaged as well. People are trapped in their homes, but we haven’t had any injuries reported so far.”

While no major damage is reported on campus as of 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, both Stavig and Granskou halls experienced minor flooding and leaks in hallways. According to sophomore Grace Douglas, at least four dorm rooms have leaking windows.

At least two on-campus apartments, Svensby and Balcer, experienced power outages from midnight to 12:38 a.m., according to Kolby Vander Woude, a senior in the Svensby Apartments. Other dorms and apartments on-campus experienced minor power outages that were restored within seconds by back-up generators.

Students gathered in basements and hallways throughout campus, huddling on floors over unfinished chemistry homework and keeping updated on the storm via Twitter. In the Stavig basement, students sang “Happy Birthday” to the newly 21-year-old, junior Korben Heim as the clock struck midnight.

Some students in East Hall like junior Layne Symington took shelter in the basement laundry room.

“I’m not a fan,” Symington said of being stuck on the concrete floors. “I forgot to bring my computer to work on my essay.”

Others on campus were working on homework as the tornado hit, like Al Blonquist, a senior football player. He and two of his teammates took shelter with two night janitors inside the Froiland Science Center.

Click to enlarge images in the photo gallery below. Included are photos taken by Mirror staff as well as submissions from students. 

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