FEMA denies state disaster request appeal

PIERRE, S.D. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has denied South Dakota's appeal for a presidential disaster declaration covering severe weather damage in six counties from Aug. 2-11.

Earlier this year, South Dakota officials 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.

The request also 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.

According to a press release, 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.

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

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.

To date, South Dakota has received four disaster declarations and FEMA staff is working in the state on the declarations.