Sturgis Mock Disaster

Sturgis, S.D., police chief Jim Bush took part in a tabletop mock disaster exercise simulating a tornado touching down during the city’s massive Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and, with 34 “dead” and a missing mayor, the police chief admits it scared him.

The disaster planning exercise May 10 included other law enforcement representatives from the South Dakota Highway Patrol and Meade County Sheriff’s Department, and was mainly concerned with equipment staging, mapping out temporary shelters and volunteer management.

The scenario was a tornado dropping into the city’s center at 11:15 p.m. and heading up the highway path that leads to Buffalo Chip Campground, where Kid Rock is performing a concert before thousands, according to the Rapid City Journal.

In the mock disaster, 34 people die, and hundreds are missing – including the Sturgis mayor.

Officials got an opportunity to address alternative locations, shelter locations and communications between city and county emergency operations.

The annual motorcycle rally isn’t until Aug. 5-11, but the exercise was enough to rattle Bush, according to the paper.
“Let’s hope that this never, ever happens,” he said. “This has been a real eye-opener. …A disaster within a massive event like the rally is a major undertaking.”