JOHNSON: South Dakotans lending hand across flood areasMidwestern states like ours know all too well that you can’t control Mother Nature. Our state has seen more than its fair share of flooding, droughts and other disasters over the years.
By: U.S. SEN. TIM JOHNSON, Guest columnist
Midwestern states like ours know all too well that you can’t control Mother Nature. Our state has seen more than its fair share of flooding, droughts and other disasters over the years. The ongoing flooding along the Missouri River and northeastern South Dakota has been nothing short of historic and has presented local officials and community members with unprecedented challenges. But our state’s hard-working spirit has been in heavy demand and in good supply in communities all along the river.
I saw this firsthand when I traveled across our state recently to see the flooding and speak with local officials about the response. Whether I was in Yankton, Pierre, Fort Pierre or Waubay, I saw the same thing: South Dakotans were pitching in. People were lining up to make and move sandbags and construct barriers not only to protect their coffee to hand out to weary workers. Neighbors and friends were opening their homes for those who were evacuated due to the floods. Vacant businesses were opened up for storage.
National Guard personnel, Red Cross workers, school children and other volunteers traveled to affected areas to lend their time, muscle and spirit to relief efforts. That’s one of the great things about living in a rural state like ours. Unlike living in some urban areas, we know our neighbors and don’t hesitate to pitch in and help.
There has also been remarkable cooperation at the federal, state and local level as well, including local homes, but property and businesses all around their community.
The assistance didn’t stop there. Families were making sandwiches and emergency managers, the state responders and National Guard, to ensure safety and protect property. I will be continuing my efforts at the federal level to ensure our communities get the resources they need without hitting red tape from Washington. As with any response of this magnitude, not everything will be done perfectly, and there will be a time to examine what went right and what could be improved moving forward.
I’m going to be visiting additional flooded areas in our state during the upcoming District Work Period, and I know I will see the same willingness to help one another. Melting snow and heavy rains have created a historically high level of water all along the river. As the response to this historic flooding continues across many communities, I want to applaud those that have been joining together, working hard and bringing out the best in our state despite such tough circumstances.
Johnson, a Democrat, is South Dakota's senior U.S. Senator.