PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard Monday requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration to help South Dakota recover from a late December storm that did more than $9.1 million in damage to public property.
The request covers public assistance in 24 counties — Butte, Clark, Codington, Day, Deuel, Dewey, Edmunds, Fall River, Faulk, Grant, Haakon, Hamlin, Harding, Jackson, Jones, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Pennington, Perkins, Roberts, Stanley, Sully and Ziebach. Also included is the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe within Dewey and Ziebach counties and the Oglala Sioux Tribe within Jackson County.
In a letter to President Donald Trump, Gov. Daugaard says the storm started Dec. 24 and continued through Dec. 26. Blizzard conditions, high winds and freezing ice led to broken power poles, downed electrical lines and stranded motorists. Three deaths were associated with the storm.
“County and city governments were overwhelmed by the blizzard conditions and ice accumulations and struggled with maintaining accessibility for emergency traffic during the snowstorm,” Gov. Daugaard wrote the President. “When emergency officers responded to 911 callers, it took hours and a great deal of snow removal or specialized snow equipment to reach them.”
Earlier this month, Gov. Daugaard had requested that FEMA help the South Dakota Office of Emergency Management verify the public property damage information provided by the counties. That work was done last week.
Gov. Daugaard stated in his letter that the state has responded to six previous Presidential Disaster Declarations since 2013. The Governor said the state still is working through the recovery process from those six disasters with FEMA.
“As you understand, recovery from disasters takes years after the initial event to fully recover physically, emotionally, and financially,” wrote the Governor. “This severe winter storm event impacted many of the same rural electric cooperatives as in the 2010 and 2013 disasters, which are still dealing with the financial ramifications and hardships from those events.”
The request is necessary for federal disaster funds to be made available to South Dakota. If the President grants the declaration, up to 75 percent of eligible costs could be reimbursed by the government. The Governor’s request does not guarantee that funding will be made available to South Dakota.
The Office of Emergency Management is part of the Department of Public Safety.