Gov. Noem tours major storm damage in Burke

Governor Kristi Noem tours Burke after an EF1 tornado hits the town Tuesday night. (Governor Kristi Noem's Office)

BURKE, S.D. (KEVN) - On Tuesday night, an EF1 tornado and wind gusts of up to 100 mph ripped through the community of Burke, located in the central-southeastern part of the state.

During the storm, two men were injured. They're listed in stable condition and expected to be okay.

The storm damaged multiple buildings, downed power lines, and destroyed homes. Governor Kristi Noem toured the area with community members and other state officials to survey the damage.

She said she had constant communication between state and local agencies during and after the storm. She's ready to assist in any way she can, meeting with the emergency management and city council.

"I think their number one priority right now is getting power back on in town, clearing the roadways so that they can get people in and out, and starting to clean up trees and a lot of debris from the businesses that have been damaged as well. The state coordinates all this," said Noem. "What's interesting is that this community has gone through 5 disasters already this year. So, we will submit an application that probably consolidates those disasters to help them qualify for federal dollars."

The hospital was one of the buildings losing power during the storm, but generators kicked in and things are still operational. The city's civic center was destroyed, which is used for community and school events.

The school also received quite a bit of damage and some areas won't be ready for the start of the school year, so four area churches will be used for classrooms.

As state officials continue to look around at the damage, there's one thing that really stuck out about the community.

I don't know if I've ever seen a community come out and get so quickly organized and immediately make so much progress in the recovery so quickly," said Noem.

And it's not just the governor noticing the comradery during this tragedy.

"We talked to a lot of residents along the way on our walking tour and it's amazing that there wasn't more injuries that came from this. Of course, you never want to have any, but I think it's just a good testament to citizens of South Dakota, communities like this that rally around each other to really get back to cleaning things up after things like this," said South Dakota Department of Public Safety Secretary Craig Price.

Both Price and Noem, along with countless other officials, want the community of Burke to hang in there because it's going to be a long road to recovery.


A look at some of the damage from the EF1 tornado in Burke. (Governor Kristi Noem's Office)