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Summer storms bring extensive damage to Pine Ridge Reservation

Wylene Two Lance was getting dinner ready Friday night when she glanced out her kitchen window and noticed the ominous dark blue cloud floating toward her village of Oglala, South Dakota.


At first, the 47-year-old woman thought it was a tornado. She yelled at her children to get ready to leave.


“Let’s go,” she said.


As a second siren went off, the family loaded into their car and drove to Two Lance’s father’s house.


Once there, they went into his basement, where only seconds later they began hearing baseball-size hail striking the wood-frame home’s roof, siding, and windows.

The hail was deafening, Two Lance said, and eventually broke out her father’s kitchen window.


Later, she would drive home to find her house’s exterior shredded by the storm.


All of the windows on the front side of her home were broken, and her siding was severely damaged. Inside, her clothing and electronics were all soaked, and broken glass covered nearly everything.


“It just shocked me,” she said. “I’m still in shock.”


Across the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota on Monday, residents began cleaning up the debris left by two damaging storms over the weekend.


The first, which included heavy rain, baseball-sized hail, and heavy winds, cut a 25-30 mile swath from Oglala to Pine Ridge. Between 550 and 600 homes were damaged by that storm, said Steve Wilson, Oglala Sioux Tribe emergency management director.


Homes suffered damage to their roofs, windows, siding, and doors. Some even suffered damage to their foundations, Wilson said.


“Roads are washed out,” he said. “We had some power loss for a little bit.”

 No one was severely injured in that storm, though some residents suffered injuries caused by exploding glass and hail. The storm also injured cattle and horses, he said.


The tribe set up six emergency shelters that were still being used Monday to house those left homeless by the storm. Across the reservation, volunteers were helping people clean up debris.


“They’ve been really helpful in pulling together and getting that help out there needed to get these homes sealed up,” Wilson said.


On Sunday afternoon, a second storm generated a tornado that landed north of Kyle and traveled southeast to Swett. Nearly 30 homes were damaged in that storm, Wilson said.


Six sustained heavy damage, including one trailer house that was completely destroyed, he said. Nearly 1 ½ feet of hail fell in an area known as Yellow Bear Canyon, requiring emergency crews to clear the hail before stranded drivers could leave that area.


Nobody was injured in that storm.


“Everybody was lucky to make it out of that one okay,” he said. “This weather’s crazy these days.”

Eileen Janis, who works with youth in Pine Ridge, said many of the homes in and around Pine Ridge looks like they were caught in a whirlwind. Many trailer homes have broken windows. Homes and government buildings have holes in their roofs.


Around her home in Pine Ridge, the trees lost many of their leaves, and her son’s car, parked in the driveway at the time of the storm Friday night, had its windshield broken out.


“It was kind of scary,” she said.


As the storm rolled onto the reservation, Janis was traveling from Rapid City back home. She was forced to stop just north of the reservation to wait for the storm to pass.


When she began driving again, she saw that hail covered nearly every inch of ground.


“It was like a winter storm,” she said.


Cattle and horses wandered across roads, and a group of boys told them their home had lost all of its windows.


Two Lance said her mother’s trailer east of Oglala suffered severe damage, with its siding shredded and windows knocked out. Her mother also suffered an injury to her head from getting struck by hail, she said.


“Everybody’s okay,” Two Lance said. “That’s all I was worried about.”


Jhacie Long Soldier
A photo and video shared by Dainna RedOwl on social media showed the loss suffered on the Pine Ridge Reservation -- her daughter's mobile home was entirely destroyed. No one was injured, she said because the family took shelter. But they lost everything in the storm.


"They need hygiene products, bedding, and newborn girl items, she prepared for her baby girl and everything was lost," RedOwl said on Sunday.


Donations, including items for a baby girl, can be mailed to Jhacie Long Soldier, PO Box 786, Kyle, SD 57752. Long Soldier is also accepting donations via PayPal.


"Your donation to me & my family is greatly appreciated," Long Soldier wrote on social media on Monday. "Thank you for concerns and willingness to help in a difficult time."



Emergency Declaration
The Oglala Sioux Tribe declared a state of emergency on July 29, 2018, in response to the severe weather and flooding. The declaration was signed by President Troy "Scott" Weston.




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