Pierre, SD (KELO AM) - South Dakota received word today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has rejected the state’s request for Individual Assistance programs to help residents impacted by tornadoes and flooding.
The denial of Individual Assistance came in a letter from FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, who said damage to homes and businesses fell short of the severity and magnitude to warrant federal assistance.
"Here in South Dakota, we all know that flooding and tornadoes impacted many residents and damaged numerous homes and businesses,'' said Kristi Turman, director of the South Dakota Office of Emergency Management. "Unfortunately, FEMA declined to find that we meet their requirements for Individual Assistance programs.
Governor Dennis Daugaard called the denial disappointing but said South Dakotans will continue to work together to help individuals and communities recover over the coming weeks and months. He said the state is examining all its options, including a possible appeal of the federal decision.
Lincoln County Emergency Manager Harold Timmerman says Thursday’s news means that homeowners will not have access to FEMA funding to help repair their homes. “Unless there is structural damage to the home itself, the basement, or the actual structure, it’s considered minor” said Timmerman. He added that one home in Canton did have what FEMA considered major damage; however that homeowner has FEMA flood insurance.
Timmerman added that while today’s ruling is a setback, some federal assistance could still be on the way for Lincoln County in the form of public infrastructure dollars. The state’s application for that funding is not tied to the individual assistance application. Timmerman expects a ruling on that is still another week or two away.
The last time South Dakota qualified for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for individual assistance was in 2011 for damages to homes and businesses caused by Missouri River flooding.