State officials assess damage in Eastern South Dakota

State officials assess damage in Eastern South Dakota
Gov. Mike Rounds and numerous state officials continue to work with local officials in eastern South Dakota counties to evaluate major damage in South Dakota caused by the blizzard on Nov. 27-29.

According to South Dakota Emergency Management Director Kristi Turman, most damage currently being reported in South Dakota is to counties' and cities' power sector.

Because of the sustained damage to the rural electric cooperatives power grid, Gov. Rounds has asked state Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials to do a joint damage assessment. FEMA officials traveled to South Dakota Friday, Dec. 2, to begin the assessment.

Together on Saturday, Dec. 3, the state OEM and FEMA teams planned to do an aerial damage assessment to confirm the magnitude of South Dakota's severe winter storm power line damage. This aerial damage assessment will allow the team to evaluate the data collected and decide whether enough damage has occurred to warrant a request for federal assistance.

Gov. Rounds and state and local officials have been working since the beginning of the blizzard to assess and document all damages and costs around the state.

When a disaster such as the recent severe weather occurs in South Dakota, the following actions take place:

? If needed, county emergency management personnel notify the South Dakota OEM of the disaster. The Office of Emergency Management will then work with county officials to assess damage and immediate needs of the affected areas. If lives or property are threatened, OEM will, when requested, immediately dispatch resources to assist local officials in their response. Resources available include, but are not limited to: the Department of Transportation, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Game, Fish and Parks, and the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

? When the state receives a disaster request, OEM will verify the reported damages. The state also assesses the dollar amount of the damages, determining whether the state reaches the threshold to request a joint preliminary assessment with the federal government, specifically FEMA.

? Immediately following the detailed damage assessment, South Dakota officials determine whether to request a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

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