The United States National Weather Service of Sioux Falls released a statement on Sunday confirming that the storm that ripped through Lennox on Saturday, August 28, 2021 was a tornado.
“Our storm survey team indicated that last night’s damage in Lennox, SD was due to strong straight line winds and a brief tornado touchdown,” the statement read.
The National Weather Service rated the tornado an EF-1 (95 mph), they determined the path was 1.9 miles, with a width of 400 yards at approximately 4:22 p.m.
The National Weather Service also said that as they look at more data and see more pictures, additional surveys may take place this week in downstream areas to determine if there were additional touchdowns.
Lincoln County Emergency Manager Harold Timmerman said there is no good way to estimate the amount of damage from the storm.
He said there was a lot of tree damage, and several people who lost sheds or sheds that sustained damage. He saw a lot of trees and power lines down. He added there was some damage to roofs, although he said to his knowledge everyone was able to stay in their homes even if there was home damage. Electricity was out Saturday through Sunday evening throughout town.
Clean up started right away said Timmerman. He said having two sites to bring trees to in the city of Lennox made a big difference. The Kuper family property immediately south of Wilson Trailer and the City Rubble site were used for dumping trees and branches. And Timmerman said the City of Lennox will be hauling away trees left in the boulevard.
“Sunday was a nice day and everybody was able to get a lot of trees hauled,” Timmerman said, “We were fortune to not have any injuries during or after the storm. We should consider ourselves lucky.”
Sunday was a whirlwind of activity as the community worked to clean up the tree damage, and Xcel trucks were in town and working on lines. The Lennox Fire Department, Lennox Area Ambulance, and local and county law enforcement were busy throughout the weekend with multiple calls.
One of the locations where first responders stopped was at the Lennox High School. The roof at the High School sustained damage. Water damage was also sustained inside.
Lennox School District Superintendent Chad Conaway said, “Damage to the junior high and high school facility was isolated to the southwest section of the building. This impacted the music room and shop classes the most. We have a lot of roof repairs to do and after we get everything dried in, we will have to assess and repair damages to the interior finishes.”
Conaway added, “Another complication of the storm has been the loss of power throughout our communities. Our food service director was quick to find a refrigerated trailer to temporarily house all the frozen and refrigerated goods until power is restored. The prolonged loss of power has been one of our greatest barriers.”
The School District closed for Monday, August 30. Later that day, Conaway announced school would resume on Tuesday.
“Today [Monday] we had a structural engineer confirm that all structures within the high school are safe for occupancy. Roofers have been hard at work patching holes and removing damaged roofing material. We expect the southwest portion of the building which sustained the most damage to be dried in by Wednesday of this week,” he said.
Conaway also offered his thanks to those who helped on Saturday and Sunday during the initial clean-up.
“First, thank you to everyone who has assisted with cleanup. It’s great to be a part of a school community who is quick to pitch in and help where needed,” he said.
That community spirit was seen throughout town over the weekend. As volunteers pitched in to help neighbors and businesses jumped in to help where they could.
The City of Lennox took to Facebook to keep residents informed as early as Saturday night.
Lennox City Administrator Nathan Vander Plaats said there was some city property that sustained damage but their immediate focus was helping others. He said that it was amazing to see the volunteers come out to help.
“We had awesome results for turnout,” Vander Plaats said Monday. “Tons of people were helping out. There were so many volunteers, it was just a great job by volunteers and our Street and Utilities crews.”
On Saturday night Vander Plaats had posted on Facebook, “I need to give a lot of thanks to residents and businesses that were out helping clear streets and helping neighbors tonight. Special thanks to Christopher DeHaan at SE Rough Sewn Lumber, Lanny Poppens at Total Tree Service, Gene Kuper for the use of his land, the City of Lennox Streets Department and Utilities Department, Lennox Fire Department, Lennox Ambulance, Lennox Police Department, Lincoln County Emergency Management, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, SD Highway Patrol, Xcel Energy, and lastly, the Tea Pizza Ranch for helping feed our staff and volunteers tonight.”
As for property damage, the city property that sustained the most damage was probably the baseball field estimated Vander Plaats. His initial assessments showed a lot of water, flashing torn off and the fence destroyed. He said there was also a hole punched in one of the equipment sheds. Of course multiple trees and power lines were down on city property, there were some shingle damage on the buildings. The ambulance garage had a tree drop on its eave and he said the t-ball dugout wall was missing. Thankfully, he added, the Waste Water Treatment plant did not have damage, and the campground and swimming pool were in good shape.
By Monday, the City of Lennox announced that Soukup Construction was in town to dispose of trees in the boulevard/street.
House and building/construction debris should be taken to the Sioux Falls Regional Landfill west of Sioux Falls (from Lennox, take Highway 17 to the four-way stop at West 41st Street. Turn left and continue for a mile or two. The Landfill will be on the south side of the road).