South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem released a statement on Tuesday, May 22 highlighting her request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration to help South Dakotans and local governmental entities recover from property damage sustained during the statewide winter weather and flooding this spring.
Her request is for FEMA assistance to help with repairs for damage done to both public property and individual homes and businesses. A preliminary damage assessment indicates about $43 million in damage to public infrastructure in 58 counties and on three reservations. The preliminary damage assessment for individual assistance is about $3 million covering 16 counties and three reservations.
In a letter to President Trump, Noem wrote that “a historic severe winter storm of rare intensity” began in South Dakota on March 13. She said the snow was followed by a rapid snowmelt and flooding. The severe weather continued through April 26.
“The winter weather and flooding caused issues with public and private infrastructure throughout the state and took an emotional toll on citizens,” wrote Noem. “Citizens continue to experience issues with their homes and businesses because of the flooding.”
Public property damage assistance is requested for the counties of: Aurora, Beadle, Bennett, Bon Homme, Brookings, Brown, Brule, Buffalo, Campbell, Charles Mix, Clark, Clay, Codington, Davison, Day, Deuel, Dewey, Douglas, Edmunds, Fall River, Faulk, Grant, Gregory, Hamlin, Hand, Hanson, Hughes, Hutchinson, Hyde, Jackson, Jerauld, Jones, Kingsbury, Lake, Lincoln, Lyman, Marshall, McCook, McPherson, Mellette, Miner, Minnehaha, Moody, Oglala Lakota, Pennington, Perkins, Potter, Roberts, Sanborn, Spink, Sully, Todd, Tripp, Turner, Union, Walworth, Yankton, and Ziebach, as well as the Cheyenne River, Lake Traverse, and Rosebud Indian Reservations.
Individual damage assistance is requested for the counties of: Bennett, Bon Homme, Brookings, Charles Mix, Dewey, Hamlin, Hutchinson, Kingsbury, Jackson, Mellette, Minnehaha, Oglala Lakota, Todd, Turner, Yankton, and Ziebach counties as well as the Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge, and Rosebud Indian Reservations.
Noem noted the severe weather affected all parts of the state. People had to be rescued from their flooded homes; city wastewater treatment plants and sewage lagoons were overwhelmed from high water; highways, ranging from the interstates to county roads, were closed and damaged by both snow and water; power outages occurred in different parts of the state; and, the state’s agricultural industry was impacted by damage to fields and livestock.
In her letter to the President, the governor stressed that the effects of this storm will be felt for a long time. She added that federal assistance is needed.
“South Dakotans pride themselves on being a hardy group of citizens, and we pull together to help one another, especially in times of disaster,” Noem wrote. “Federal assistance, combined with state, local, and voluntary assistance, would help individuals, businesses, and government inch closer to recovering from this disaster.”
The governor’s request does not guarantee federal funding will be made available to South Dakota and its citizens. South Dakota last received an Individual Assistance Declaration in 2011 for widespread damage from Missouri River flooding. The last Public Assistance Declaration was granted in 2016 following a Christmastime ice storm.
South Dakota currently has six open Presidential Disaster Declarations for other events and is working with FEMA on the recovery process for each of those disasters.