Supporting tornado recovery in South Dakota

“The ERF grant provided by CDP was extremely beneficial in allowing us to act quickly to get relief funds in the hands of people who needed help most. With the help of the grant, we were able to assist schools, businesses, churches, and families in restoring their lives.” – Castlewood Community Foundation

A tornado in Castlewood, South Dakota, caused extensive damage on May 12, 2022, after a derecho hit Eastern South Dakota. More than 35 homes were damaged or destroyed in the town of 690 people. Though some immediate assistance was provided for relief and response efforts, there wasn’t much additional support for recovery needs.

In 2022, CDP’s Midwest Early Recovery Fund awarded the Castlewood Community Foundation (CCF) a grant to support long-term recovery and disaster preparedness. As part of its services, the organization provided case management to ensure that funds were distributed equitably to long-term needs applicants.

CCF received 40 applications for long-term support and distributed more than $350,000 in donations to families, businesses, schools, churches, and city entities in need. Castlewood’s lower-income population was disproportionately affected by the tornado and benefited greatly from CCF’s program.

The local school provided the only shelter for the community during the storm but was also severely damaged by the tornado. CDP’s funding enabled CCF to support a task force looking at rebuilding and sheltering options for the community.

CCF also supported children who suffered long-term trauma following the tornado by funding a motivational speaker to discuss trauma issues with Castlewood students.

I liked the presentation because he talked about things at school and home and how you don’t know what someone is going through at home. All you know about them is their name, last name and things you heard about them that aren’t true.” – Castlewood student 

Recovery work continues in Castlewood, with many volunteers contributing their time to support tornado recovery efforts and a wide range of donations received to assist those affected. Despite the devastation, the disaster also resulted in the formation of many new friendships. Castlewood residents’ firsthand experience has made them more sensitive to others suffering from the impact of disasters.

Photo: Storm damage in Castlewood, South Dakota on May 13, 2022. Credit: Kat Anderson Photography; Castlewood, SD