BURKE, S.D. (AP) – As a small town in southern South Dakota recovers from a tornado that destroyed its civic center and caused other extensive damage, some residents are asking why the community’s warning siren wasn’t sounded.
The EF-1 tornado with 100 mph winds ripped through the Town of Burke Tuesday night, ripping roofs off buildings and homes, uprooting trees and leaving the school building unusable for the beginning of classes. Two men suffered minor injuries when a garage collapsed.
Gov. Kristi Noem visited the community Wednesday and called the damage “unbelievable.” Noem promised the state’s help in the community’s restoration efforts.
Burke Mayor Thomas Glover says the siren is sounded when officials get notification of a tornado sighting or that one is imminent. Glover says that did not happen.
National Weather Service chief meteorologist Todd Heitkamp said that although the possibility of tornadoes was mentioned in the severe thunderstorm warning for Gregory County, a tornado warning was not issued because meteorologists did not see any indications that one was coming.
“The main threat to Burke was the straight-line winds,” Heitkamp said, adding that it’s up to the affected community to decide whether to sound the alarm.