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August flooding in Custer, SD.
photo courtesy of Angie Svoboda
August flooding in Custer, SD.

FEMA Denies South Dakota’s Disaster Request Appeal


News Staff - November 27, 2019

PIERRE, S.D. – The Department of Public Safety has announced that FEMA denied the state’s appeal for a presidential disaster declaration covering severe weather damage done in six South Dakota counties from Aug. 2-11, 2019.

South Dakota officials had requested a disaster declaration for Public Assistance to damage done by severe storms, tornadoes and floods in the counties of Brule, Custer, Gregory, Lyman, Spink and Tripp. That request included Custer County which experienced flash flooding during the Sturgis Rally Aug. 2 and the town of Burke, which was struck by an EF-1 tornado on Aug. 6.

FEMA declined the initial assistance request and South Dakota appealed. That appeal was denied last week.

“We are disappointed both by the initial decision and now the denial of the appeal,” said Noem. “These counties were impacted by severe weather and damage was done to public infrastructure such as roads and bridges.”

In its denial, FEMA officials stated that none of the damage was “of the severity and magnitude” that it would prove too costly for the state and local governments to fund themselves.

“These counties, like the rest of the state, have been battered by storm after storm this year,” Noem said. “The impact these damages have on the budgets of the six counties has been tremendous. These counties, many of them small, do not have the financial resources to do this response on their own.”

Department of Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Craig Price said the department’s Office of Emergency Management will continue to provide assistance as requested to the six counties.

“I am proud of the work done by department staff in putting together the information for the initial request and then the appeal,” Price said. “As always, we remain available to assist counties as needed.”

Price said assistance may be available to people with individual recovery needs through the South Dakota Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters. People with individual recovery needs can email [email protected]  for more information.

South Dakota has received four disaster declarations this year and FEMA staff is working in the state on the declarations. Noem has designated the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Emergency Management as the lead state government agency for the disaster recovery.



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