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Delmont Tornado: Monday AM Update

People in the town of Delmont are now able to sift through the rubble after a tornado. The storm struck the tiny town in southeast South Dakota on Sunday morning. Crews are working to restore basic necessities and assess the damage.  

Initial assessments after Sunday’s storm show 20 buildings sustained damage after an EF-2 tornado tore through Delmont. Kristi Turman is the Division Director of Emergency Services for South Dakota’s Department of Public Safety.

"Delmont is a town of about 200 people, so when you say 20 buildings, which includes homes and the church, that’s a significant impact to this small community," Turman says. "That number of 20, that was an initial assessment, so that number could rise, and that just indicates more of an impact to the community."

Turman says people evacuated last night, because the town had no power or water service, and officials were concerned about a few unsecured propane tanks. Now families are back in town to salvage what they can. Crews are working to restore utilities to Delmont. 

"We’re working with the community and the homeowners to make a determination on what their residents need," Turman says. "We do have shelters set up in Tripp, in the town of Tripp, if people need them. Most people are going to friends and family to stay, so we’ll have to see what the day brings, how much restoration of infrastructure we can get to today – if we can get to it at all."

Turman says people were the priority Sunday as a first response to the crisis. She says authorities are taking the next steps now to transition to recovery and repair.

Turman says people are reaching out to the state to learn how they can volunteer or give donations.

"That is so South Dakota. South Dakotans take care of South Dakotans, and the community very much appreciates everybody’s willingness to help," Turman says. "Right now we’re holding off on volunteers and on donations, because the city right now is just not able to support those type of operations, so we’re putting plans in place for volunteer reception. We’re putting plans in place for donations management, and when those plans get finalized, we will absolutely get that word out."

Turman says officials need to make sure the area is safe for volunteers. She says people willing to donate money can offer their donations to the Red Cross any time. That organization has set up a shelter and provides necessities for people affected by the disaster.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).