FEMA looking at public infrastructure damage after flooding

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is back in Minnehaha County looking at public infrastructure damage. It's a preliminary damage assessment that will go to the governor’s desk to seek federal aid.

Last week, FEMA assessed the impact of flooding on individuals and homes, but now its focus is on roads and bridges.

A special FEMA team was out Monday in Sertoma Park checking out not only bridges but other public infrastructure in the area.

The damage survey is to see if the city will qualify for any federal assistance to get bridges, homes and roads back to normal.

"This is just an assessment phase so this is the gathering of all the data that hard data that's going to be needed for the governor to make that decision," Lynn Kimbrough said with FEMA External Affairs.

Once the assessments are done they will be forwarded to the state to help Governor Noem decide what federal assistance to ask for; whether it's for individuals impacted, public infrastructure or both.

FEMA officials have been traveling all over Minnehaha County to get a handle on just how bad the damage is from this past March's flash flooding.

"It’s been devastating for so many people so this week the focus will be looking on what the impacts were to public roads, public bridges and last week the focus was on looking at the impacted individuals and their homes," Kimbrough said.

A bridge in Sertoma Park has been closed since the flooding in March. Sioux Falls Emergency Manager Regan Smith said engineers were hired to look at all bridges next to the river both pedestrian bridges and bridges that handle car and truck traffic.

Now the city has to wait and see what FEMA officials come up with.

"I mean we're hopeful obviously we got to let the system play out and the different levels of government take a look at it, but looking at what we see here in Sioux Falls and across the state I think there is significant damage," Smith said.

"The process right now is the one in which we're helping the state and the county emergency managers gather that information and collect it so that they'll have a full picture that will enable the governor to make that decision," Kimbrough said.

The bridge will remain closed until it can be fixed or replaced. Park staff will continue to clean up the area and free it from debris.

Other parks in Sioux Falls also suffered major damage particularly at Yankton Trail Park. Officials said they're still working to clear debris and fix the electrical damage that was caused.