South Dakota Homeowners Won’t Receive FEMA Storm Money

May 25, 2013

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working with South Dakota officials on the reimbursement process following an April snow and ice storm, but individual homeowners will be out of luck in receiving any of the federal money.

That’s because at least 100 homes must be destroyed or uninhabitable as a result of the storm. Sioux Falls emergency manager Reagan Smith told The Argus Leader in a story published Tuesday that that threshold was not met.

“All FEMA programs, whether they be individual assistance or public assistance, they aren’t really to help the community or individual become whole again, it’s primarily to assist the community or individual in recovery,” Smith said. “It isn’t like an insurance policy, where we’re going to come in and buy everything that you lost, or that type of thing.”

The April 9 through 11 storm dumped 2 feet of snow on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. An ice storm in Sioux Falls knocked out power to more than 115,000 people. Downed trees and power lines prompted the city to a launch a branch cleanup process that is still ongoing. President Obama approved a disaster declaration for Douglas, Hutchinson, Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha, Shannon and Turner counties, as well as the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The declaration authorizes the federal government to provide recovery assistance for up to 75 percent of eligible costs.

The state will cover 10 percent of the remaining costs while local governments or organizations will cover 15 percent, said Jason Bauder, mitigation and recovery manager for the state Office of Emergency Management.

FEMA officials could be in the area for the next two months, though reimbursements won’t come until later. Smith said FEMA will examine the costs of cleaning up debris from the storm, infrastructure repair and overtime costs for emergency personnel during the storm. Preliminary estimates show the storm caused at least $11.4 million in damages to public and private nonprofit property.

“They’ll set up shop here, and they’ll have their public assistance directors start working with the city in the various departments, finance, public works, parks, police and fire to start reviewing and capturing the costs that we incurred during the ice storm and the subsequent recovery, primarily the tree branch cleanup that’s continuing to go on right now,” Smith said.

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