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South Dakota receives another round of federal disaster aid

Members of the Rapid City-Pennington County Water Rescue team work to help divert water flow away from a washout at the Oglala Dam in March 2019. Courtesy RCPC Water Rescue Team

PIERRE, S.D. — President Donald Trump has approved South Dakota's request for a second presidential disaster declaration as the state continues recovery efforts from severe summer storms, the governor announced Tuesday, Sept. 24.

The federal money will be used to help local government entities recover from property damages, Gov. Kristi Noem's office said.

“South Dakota continues to be battered by heavy rainfall and persistent flooding, and this additional funding will continue to move impacted communities towards recovery,” Noem said. “I appreciate that FEMA and the President recognize the compounding effects of these storms and heavy rain.”

In June, preliminary damage assessments estimated about $8 million in damage to public infrastructure in 25 counties and on two reservations, the governor's office said.

Public property damage assistance has been approved for Aurora, Bennett, Brule, Butte, Campbell, Custer, Deuel, Fall River, Gregory, Haakon, Hamlin, Hanson, Jackson, Jones, Lyman, Meade, Mellette, Pennington, Sanborn, Todd, Tripp, Turner, Union, Walworth and Ziebach counties, and the Cheyenne River Sioux and the Rosebud reservations, Noem's office said.

In Noem's request to Trump, the governor cited continued heavy rainfall on already-saturated soils, forcing rivers and lakes back into flood stage or exacerbating ongoing flooding. Roads were also washed out, forcing repairs and slowing commerce and agriculture.

“The impact of this event will be felt in these communities well into the future,” Noem wrote in her request. “However, with the availability of federal assistance, combined with the state, local, and voluntary assistance provided, it will help individuals, businesses, and government inch closer to recovering from this disaster."

In June, Trump approved the state's request for aid following severe winter weather and spring flooding. Then, the preliminary assessment indicated about $43 million to public infrastructure in 58 counties and three Indian reservations, according to Noem's office. Later in June, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation made a separate plea for a presidential disaster declaration that Trump approved after a spokesman said the reservation had likely sustained between $9 million to $11 million in damages.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working in South Dakota on both declarations.

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