Kelly Monshaugen

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has requested a Presidential Disaster  Declaration to help South Dakota recover from an April 8-10, 2013, ice and snow  storm. The  damages occurred in Douglas, Hutchinson, Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha, Turner and  Shannon counties, including the Pine Ridge  Indian Reservation.

Estimates of damage to public and private  nonprofit property are more than $11.4 million. Included are costs associated with clearing roads, restoring electricity and removing debris caused by the freezing rain.

The letter to President Barack Obama, included comments from Gov. Daugaard regarding the personnel and equipment from state, tribal, county and local levels which has been dedicated to  recovering from the severe storm. The Governor also stated Shannon County and the Pine Ridge Indian  Reservation had a record 26.5 inches of snow, and 115,000 South Dakotans were  without power in the six southeastern counties that were hard hit by ice.

Governor Daugaard wrote, “The  tree debris covered public roads and sidewalks, which caused public health and  safety issues because emergency traffic was unable to drive down the roadways  and citizens were unable to evacuate their homes until the tree debris was  cleared from roads.”.

“The  costs associated with this disaster, combined with the last eight declarations, including the Missouri River Flooding in 2011,  increases the state’s financial stress if federal assistance is not provided,” Gov. Daugaard wrote. 

The request by the Governor for a major disaster declaration is a necessary step 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 federal government. The Governor’s request does not guarantee federal  funding will be made available.

Here is my comment: "I don't know what happened in the rest of the state. In Sioux Falls, public and private organizations did a magnificient job, restoring power, opening streets, clearing debris. There was no major damage to public buildings. Water, Sewer, Fire, Police, and ambulance services continued. In most places all services were restored within 48 hours. Nobody was killed. There were no reports of major injuries. The bills for services rendered to the city are being paid, and according to the mayor, the city has the financial resources to pay all of them. I don't know how much money other units of local government have had to spend, nor do I know what the state commitment has been. Before, the President sends money, I hope his people scrutinize not only the money spent, but also the ability of those local and the state government to shoulder the costs. At a time when Uncle Sam, can't find the money to handle the basics, it doesn't make much sense to ask for money they don't have, especially when the request is coming from a state which seems to be clicking along with minimal interruption to services and resources to pay the bill."