About 40 tribal leaders, elders and others attending the May session of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council on May 6 were trapped, and several injured, when a “tornado or a microburst” slammed into the Cherry Creek Community building.
The winds badly damaged or completely destroyed several tribal buildings, including the community center, whose walls and ceiling collapsed, trapping those inside for up to an hour, KSFY News reported.
“I want to commend the rapid response from the individual community members in Cherry Creek who risked their lives to assist those who were caught inside the building,” said Chairman Harold Frazier in a statement, calling the event traumatic. “Those men and women went above and beyond to help.”
In all, four people were injured, Cheyenne River Law Enforcement Center administrative officer Bobbie Kraft told ABC News affiliate KSFY. Some of the injuries were serious, the tribe said, though no council members were among the injured. There were also no fatalities.
“At this time my thoughts and prayers are with those who were affected by this dangerous and devastating event,” Frazier said.
“I would like to say thank you to Chairman Frazier, Tribal Councilmen and Tribal Councilwomen who were there consoling, helping lift beams and other things off the injured,” said District 4 Councilwoman Merrie Miller-White Bull in the statement. “I would like to thank the community members who came and helped.”
The tribe sent out a special thank you to a number of tribal agencies and organizations that helped in the rescue effort, as well as to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.
While numerous tornadoes were reported across the Midwest on Wednesday, the National Weather Service said that although thunderstorms were nearby, it looked as though straight winds—which can reach 100mph—caused the damage, according to NBC affiliate KDLT News.