"Our goal is to work with the utility companies and pick up downed poles and wires in state, county and township rights of way after new ones are in place," says Gov. Rounds. "This partnership allows the utilities to focus solely on getting heat and electricity restored, while the State of�South Dakota�provides immediate, temporary assistance in hauling away debris left from the storm."
Each crew consists of 16 people, three trucks, one skidder, one loader, power tools and hand equipment. South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) employees will serve as crew leaders. Other team members include a representative from the utility company, six to eight inmates, a Department of Corrections supervisor, a skidder operator and additional SDDOT employees to run the loaders. South Dakota National Guard troops will provide the manpower and trucks to haul the debris to designated dumpsites.
Two crews began clean-up Dec. 7, one starting from the Huron Area SDDOT office and the other departing from the�Mitchell Area�SDDOT office. During the clean-up effort, crews will begin with a daily safety briefing and description of goals. Each crew will work during daylight hours as long as weather permits. Additional crews will deploy and operations will be adjusted as utilities continue to make progress.
The storm destroyed over 10,000 poles and debris is scattered across hundreds of miles of right of way. According to SDDOT Secretary Judy Payne, some of the debris is buried under the snow and cleanup efforts will take months.
"Realistically, one crew will be able to clear about two miles or an average of 36 poles a day. We're asking for patience as we work through this situation."�
While work continues, Secretary Payne asks snowmobilers to avoid rights of way where work and clean-up continues.�She also asks motorists to watch for utility and clean-up crews and give them space to work.
The SDDOT will send daily updates of the number of crews working, location of the crews and work accomplished.