Daugaard Requests Presidential Disaster Declaration For December Storm



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.

South Dakota Gov. Daugaard Issues Emergency Fire Declaration July 13, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. July 13, 2016 – Gov. Dennis Daugaard has issued an emergency fire declaration for 13 central and western South Dakota counties that have been impacted by drought conditions.

The counties are: Butte, Custer, Fall River, Haakon, Harding, Hughes, Jackson, Jones, Lawrence, Meade, Pennington, Perkins and Stanley.

Gov. Daugaard said the declaration allows state government services to be used as necessary to help the counties that are part of the declaration. The declaration was recommended by the state Drought Task Force which was activated by the Governor this week.

“Widespread drought, low humidity and high temperatures have led to a serious fire hazard in those 13 counties,” said Gov. Daugaard. “Persistent prairie fires could diminish the feed and water supplies needed for livestock; or create hardships for individuals, businesses and governments by destroying public, private and agricultural property.”

The declaration allows one single engine air tanker (SEAT) plane to be stationed in Pierre and be managed by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Division of Wildland Fire. The plane will respond as needed to fires in the declared counties. If used, the state would cover 90 percent of the cost while the counties would pay the other 10 percent. Additionally, the SEAT will be available to use on prairie fires affecting federal and tribal lands through existing agreements.  

“It has been a dry year in parts of South Dakota. Sixty percent of the land in our state is abnormally dry and counties primarily west of the river are experiencing moderate to extreme drought,” Gov. Daugaard said. “By declaring an emergency the state will be prepared to assist counties when and if fires break out.”

The Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District is not included in the declaration. The declaration period begins Friday, July 16, 2016 and will last no longer than Dec. 31, 2016.