“Vicious” storm largely spares city

By Garrett Ammesmaki


Remnants of the destroyed 4-H construction site on Highway 17, north of Lennox.


The storm surge that pummeled Eastern South Dakota this last Thursday brought damages that spurred Gov. Kristi Noem to declare a state of emergency, according to a press release from the governor’s office.


While some areas saw wind speeds up to 107 mph, at least two deaths, extensive property damage, and the destruction of a Lincoln County construction site, the City of Tea got off rather unscathed by the surge.


Half the city lost power for some time, according to City Administrator Dan Zulkosky. But other than some trees, bushes and shingles, it was “fairly quiet.”


But, like many people who were on the road when the storm hit, Zulkosky himself had a rather eventful drive home. He was trying to outrun the storm in his GMC SUV when it overtook him.


“It was vicious,” he said. “It threw me around like it was nothing, like I was a piece of paper.”

His vehicle suffered a broken windshield and gravel damage. But the longtime SD resident was largely thankful.

“I’ll take that over flipping any day,” he said.


While the City of Tea was largely spared, a new construction for the county’s 4-H program was completely demolished by the storm, according to 4-H Program Advisor Wendy Sweeter.


Sweeter is also a contributor to The Tea Weekly.


The framing for the future show ring, located just southwest of Tea on Highway 17, was started April 18, but paused due to weather, Sweeter said.


It was slated to be finished by July 1, and the final rafter of the frame was up when last weeks’ storm took the entire build apart.

Cleary Construction is in charge of the project, and the damage will require a complete redoing of the footings, according to Sweeter. There was a stack of materials nearby that were completely untouched.


“These storms are nuts,” Sweeter said. While the frame of the building was destroyed, “everything else was fine.”

The show ring was the first in a five building project, Sweeter said. The other four buildings will be for animal housing, though they have yet to reach their fundraising goals, so construction has not started.


It took around two years of fundraising to finance the roughly $178,000 show ring. Though the exact cost of the damage is yet to be calculated, Sweeter believes insurance will cover all damages.


A new completion date is yet to be announced, and largely depends on the availability of materials, according to Sweeter.

While winds were estimated to be around 80 mph in Tea and nearby areas, Tripp, SD, saw winds up to 107 mph, according to the National Weather Service Sioux Falls.


Thursday’s severe thunderstorm was considered a “particularly dangerous situation,” according to the NWS Sioux Falls Twitter.

At least two deaths have been attributed to the storm by local news outlets, including a woman who was struck by debris while in her car.


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