Storm hits Avera Heart Hospital Campus hard

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - A tornado struck the Avera Heart Hospital Tuesday night, leaving the surrounding campus in disarray.

Debris was easily pushed around by winds reaching 100 mph. At the Heart Hospital and the nearby Avera Behavioral Health Center, the winds blew out windows and tossed around lumber and damaged cars. The parking lot was also filled with downed trees.

At the Behavioral Health Center, part of the roofing was pulled up and hanging from the side of the building, while still other pieces were scattered in the parking lot and surrounding neighborhoods.

Seven people were eventually transferred from the behavioral health center over to the heart hospital. Thankfully, just one person is recovering from non-life threatening injuries.

"Because we're a hospital - we need to be open, and we're a clinic," said Marilyn Paddock, Avera Heart Hospital marketing director. "We're closed today and only have emergency surgeries available but I'm thinking we will be back open tomorrow."

As daylight arrived, hospital employees had a clear look at what happened from last night's storm, and it wasn't just staff who worked overnight coming to help clean up storm damage. Some members of the Avera family are coming in off the clock to help out.

"It's my day off, I saw this on TV, and your heart comes to this place to help in any capacity you can," said Susan Eichacher, North Central Heart Clinic, Heart Failure Coordinator.

Employees work close with one another inside the building and today -- they came together to lend a hand getting the hospital back in running order.

"As I look around the parking lot we have the maintenance staff we have nurses we have directors, we have everyone and every tier," Paddock said.

Despite the damage to the outside of the building, Avera says no evacuation of the patients is necessary in the wake of the storm.