FEMA Begins Meeting with South Dakota Counties

July 29, 2008

Federal Emergency Management Agency surveyors have begun meeting with some South Dakota county representatives to review damage estimates from early June storms and flooding.

President Bush on July 9 signed a disaster declaration to cover repair or replacement of public infrastructure in 27 counties and three American Indian reservations. It authorizes the federal government to provide financial assistance for up to 75 percent of the eligible damage to public infrastructure.

Gov. Mike Rounds’ request for federal help put the damage at $4 million to roads, bridges and sewer systems.

Preliminary damage estimates for each county include: Aurora, $40,000; Bon Homme, $61,000; Brule, $21,000; Buffalo, $90,000; Butte, $584,000; Charles Mix, $165,000; Clay, $54,000; Dewey, $265,000; Douglas, $73,000; Gregory, $94,000; Haakon, $180,000; Hand, $23,000; Hanson, $47,000; Hughes, $66,000; Hutchinson, $136,000; Jackson, $78,000; Lawrence, $604,000; Lyman, $90,000; McCook, $81,000; Meade, $134,000; Mellette, $44,000; Moody, $111,000; Perkins, $225,000; Stanley, $31,000; Tripp, $405,000; Turner, $33,000; and Ziebach, $118,000.

Those counties include much of the Cheyenne River, Lower Brule and Crow Creek reservations.

Because the estimates for the disaster declaration were gathered so quickly, amounts are expected to change after the assessment, said Phil Wernisch, FEMA representative from the Pierre office.

Included in the evaluation is the per capita comparison of each county and whether any of the damage was insured, he said.

FEMA pays up to 75 percent of eligible repairs or replacement, the state picks up 15 percent and the local jurisdictions cover 10 percent.

The state’s portion will come from its emergency and disaster fund, a spokeswoman said.

Emergency managers from several of the counties said they will have no trouble coming up with the 10 percent. But counties with smaller populations are more likely to be impacted financially because of a smaller tax base, Wernisch said.

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