RAPID CITY, S.D. - A tornado Wednesday in the small town of Wessington Springs, South Dakota, resulted in more than 170 Soldiers and Airmen from the South Dakota National Guard being called on for help. That assignment brings the number of National Guard members on storm-related duty to about 300 troops.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard activated about 135 Guard members Wednesday to assist the state in flood response operations in southeast South Dakota.
Those troops were assigned to assist state and local emergency management officials in response to the rise in water levels along the Big Sioux River.
News media reports Thursday were that no serious injuries had been reported in Wessington Springs, where up to 40 people waited out the storm in the nuclear fallout shelter in the basement of the county courthouse, USA Today reported.
The SDNG is moving personnel, dump trucks and support equipment to Union County to assist with levee construction. If required, the Guard may also help with rescue and evacuation, sandbagging and traffic control missions as well.
Daugaard declared a state of emergency and opened the State Emergency Operations Center early Tuesday morning. The EOC has been working with SDNG officials to coordinate appropriate levels of response.
"The South Dakota National Guard is always willing to support our state in response to emergencies such as this," said Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, adjutant general of the SDNG. "In fact, it's one of the missions we're most proud of."
The SDNG responded to flooding in the Pierre/Fort Pierre and Dakota Dunes areas during the summer of 2011 with more than 1,900 Soldiers and Airmen providing personnel and resources for filling, transporting and distributing sandbags, levee construction, providing security and operating traffic control points, as well as helping stranded citizens threatened by flood waters.