Watertown residents locked out of storm shelters during tornado - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Watertown residents locked out of storm shelters during tornado warning

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Several counties saw severe weather roll overhead as a result of Sunday night's storms. Codington County luckily dodged a bullet, or did they?

There were more than a handful of people in Watertown aren't too happy with how their emergency officials responded to the severe storms.

.In South Dakota everyone knows what a wailing siren means. But as storm clouds built overhead Sunday night the Codington County Emergency Managers felt the worst was behind them.

Greg Benson lives in the Lake Pelican Estates and was one of several people who saw funnel clouds forming.

"I saw the tornadoes right above the lake right to the south of Pelican and they were breaking up, luckily they didn't hit the ground." Said Benson.

But the swirling clouds were enough for Watertown to trigger the sirens. Many people in this mobile home community heeded the call and drove to the city storm shelter. All they found was a locked door.

"That's pretty crazy, I guess if I had needed to go there I'd be screwed!" Said Benson

Several people alerted us to the lock out over Facebook. One family said they had to drive across town to find safety at Walmart.

The Codington County Emergency Manager says initial reports showed the storm breaking up so they didn't unlock the storm shelters. When the storm intensified over Lake Pelican they sounded the sirens, but forgot to unlock the shelters.

Greg: The city always drops the ball here in Watertown, it's what they do.

Jake: so it doesn't surprise you?

Greg: nope not one bit.

While there was no tornado, Benson says the city needs to figure things out before one decides to touch down. The Emergency Manager says they've learned their lesson and this mix-up definitely won't happen again.

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