Noem requests Presidential Disaster Declaration

PIERRE, S.D. (Press Release) – Governor Kristi Noem today requested 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.

The request is for FEMA assistance to help with repairs for damage done to both public property as well as to 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 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 many issues with public and private infrastructure throughout the state as well as the extreme emotional toll on impacted citizens,” wrote Noem. “Citizens continue to experience ongoing issues with their homes and businesses because of the flooding.”

Public property damage assistance is being 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 being 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 impacted all parts of the state. The governor wrote that people had to be rescued from their flooded homes; city wastewater treatment plans and sewage lagoons were overwhelmed from high water; highways, ranging from the interstates to the 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 impacts 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. “However, with the availability of federal assistance, combined with state, local, and voluntary assistance provided, it will 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 Christmas 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.