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Red Cross Works In Tornado Aftermath

Access to a town hit by a weekend tornado is still restricted. About 200 people live in Delmont. The community is in the southeastern part of the state. Emergency management officials continue to assess the damage from a Sunday storm that hurt nine people and damaged homes and other buildings. Meanwhile the American Red Cross is working with state and local officials to keep safety the priority.

Emergency officials are keeping a hard perimeter around Delmont in place for now. The hard perimeter means that only residents and their families are allowed in and out of town. State officials are using credentials to tag people who enter the community. They plan to reassess sometime Tuesday.

Tony Burke is the executive director of the Red Cross in eastern South Dakota.

"They really want to give the families the opportunity to really get what they want out of their homes in in a very safe and coordinated fashion. We do have the Guard on scene now, as well, so they’re starting to do cleanup," Burke says.

Burke says most of the cleanup following the EF-2 tornado happens only after people who live in Delmont recover what they can from the debris. He says people who want to volunteer their time should wait for officials to establish a plan for widespread cleanup. Burke says the community is soon transitioning from response to recovery.

"Everybody is running on adrenaline right now, and this is a marathon not a sprint. It’s going to be a long road to recovery so it’s so vitally important that people take a pause, check on each other, make sure they continue to have nourishment, and get rest," Burke says. "A lot of people are going to come down off that adrenaline in the next day or so and it’s going to be a whole different world to them, so we’re here for the long run, as much of our community partners are, in just helping Delmont move through this to a good road to recovery."

Burke says the Red Cross is making sure hundreds of people working on the initial response have food and water. The Red Cross is keeping a shelter in nearby Tripp open until officials expand access to Delmont.

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).