Governor seeks individual assistance for flood, tornado damage
PIERRE — Gov. Dennis Daugaard has requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration to help South Dakotans whose homes and businesses were damaged by a tornado and flooding last month.
The request is for the Individual Assistance program from FEMA. If the president approves the declaration request, FEMA can offer a range of programs designed to help state residents who have been impacted by the flooding.
In a letter to FEMA, Gov. Daugaard noted that the damage occurred because of a pattern of severe storms, flooding and tornadoes during the period from June 13 through June 20. The storms caused flash flooding in many communities along the Big Sioux River in southeastern South Dakota. About 90 percent of the homes within the city of Canton sustained flood damage.
At least six tornadoes impacted Jerauld County on June 18, including one that caused severe damage to the county seat of Wessington Springs.
"Many children were in the path of the tornado, and numerous families have harrowing stories of huddling in a basement to protect their children as the storm ripped away their home above them,'' the governor wrote.
Daugaard said the state responded to four presidential disaster declarations in 2013.
"As you understand, recovery from disasters takes years after the initial event to fully recover physically, emotionally and financially,'' he wrote. "The costs associated with this disaster combined with the four declarations last year increases the state's financial stress if federal assistance is not provided.''
Federal, state and local teams assessed the extent and severity of damage to homes and businesses in three counties June 26-27. Based on those assessments, Daugaard determined that a request for Individual Assistance programs is justified. The governor's request does not guarantee federal funding will be made available to South Dakota citizens. South Dakota last received an Individual Assistance declaration in 2011 for widespread damage from Missouri River flooding.
Counties included in the request for federal individual assistance are Jerauld, Lincoln and Union.