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FEMA impressed with progress in Delmont

DELMONT-- Crews from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Small Business Administration were in Delmont on Tuesday assessing the damage to homes and businesses.

This is the first step in determining if FEMA's individual assistance program or the Small Business Administration's disaster loan program will be available for Delmont residents.

Jerry DeFelice, FEMA spokesman, said that he is impressed with the progress the community has made so far through volunteer services.

"The volunteer efforts in Delmont have been tremendous," DeFelice said. "It's obvious there has been a lot of help, but in talking to local officials, they would still welcome help."

Information obtained through Sunday shows that 395 people have volunteered through the volunteer center and resource center in Delmont, tallying 3,927 hours of volunteer work since a tornado ripped through the town on May 10, Department of Public Safety Spokesman Tony Mangan said on Tuesday.

DeFelice said two teams from FEMA and the Small Business Administration fanned out through town and assessed damage. Their intent was not to determine whether or not the town is eligible for government aid, but rather to "get a good, solid idea of the impact for the state to consider what to do next," DeFelice said.

The purpose of the assessment was to help officials determine if they should request federal assistance, according to DeFelice.

DeFelice said, thanks to volunteer efforts, Delmont's recovery is seemingly manageable by the state and local governments.

"That's great—and it's not surprising," DeFelice said. "People in South Dakota are very resilient and willing to help their neighbors, and that is evident here."

Additionally, after rain shut down the operation of heavy equipment in Delmont this weekend, the equipment—used to haul debris to the Douglas County rubble site—was reactivated on Tuesday, Mangan said.