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Governor Daugaard Seeks Disaster Declaration for Late-June Storms

PIERRE, S.D.  (KELO AM) – Gov. Dennis Daugaard has requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration to help South Dakota recover from a late-June weather pattern that produced strong straight-line winds, severe storms, tornadoes and flooding.

The request is for public assistance in seven counties. Preliminary assessments show that the series of storms from June 19 through 29 caused damage to public property estimated at more than $1.7 million.

The damage occurred in Beadle, Codington, Deuel, Grant, Hamlin, Hughes and Kingsbury counties.

In a letter to President Obama, Gov. Daugaard said the slow-moving storm system produced four tornadoes, 90-mph, hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall that washed out roads and culverts and caused rivers to rise above flood stage in several places.

“Tragically as a result, one life was lost and one member of this family was significantly injured when the hurricane-force winds tore through a small community around Lake Poinsett in Hamlin County,’’ the Governor said. “These hurricane-force winds also destroyed four homes and significantly damaged another eight homes.’’

The heavy rain and flooding made roads impassable for emergency responders and citizens in the rural areas. The damaged roads caused a significant impact to the agricultural economy because farmers were trying to cultivate crops and transport last year’s crops to markets. The storm also caused damage at the State Fairgrounds in Huron.

Gov. Daugaard reminded the President that South Dakota is still recovering from a record seven presidentially declared disasters in 2010 and the devastating 2011 Missouri River flooding, as well as an April, 2013, ice and snow storm and a severe weather pattern late in May of this year. Both the April and May storm systems resulted in presidential disaster declarations.

The request 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 request does not guarantee federal funding will be made available to South Dakota.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency participated last week in the preliminary damage assessments.