SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Gov. Kristi Noem has requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration for damage sustained in the eastern part of the state from the May 12 storms.
A preliminary damage assessment indicates more than $6.7 million in damage was done to public infrastructure in 20 counties and on two reservations, according to a news release from the Governor’s office.
Noem’s request asks for FEMA assistance to help for repairs to damages to public infrastructure such as damage to rural electric association equipment or county buildings.
The storm damage was felt in much of eastern South Dakota but based on the per capita damage estimates, Lake County sustained the most damage.
In order to request a federal disaster, damage must meet per capita damage thresholds. The damage estimate thresholds are based on a per capita cost at the state and county level. The other factor is the overall impact of the event.
The per capita damage in Lake County was $164.47, according to Noem’s disaster request letter. It was $4.24 per capita in Minnehaha County.
Noem’s letter cited “two deaths, a preliminary number of 14 reported tornadoes, and wind gusts of more than 100 mph in some places. The storms also resulted in the temporary closure of roads and highways. Nearly 70,000 customers experienced power outages.”
National Guard clear debris, Castlewood school being evaluated
The request letter includes details of the damage and responses from some public entities.
The South Dakota National Guard had 135 active duty personnel clear debris from streets in Madison and Ramona. Other guard members provided security around disaster sites in Castlewood where an EF2 tornado hit.
The public school in Castlewood was severely damaged by the EF2 tornado.
According to Noem’s disaster letter, officials are still evaluating if the school can be used for even some classes in August. Officials are also determining alternative sites if the school cannot be used.
In Salem, 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel was released after the storm damaged a facility.
When a transformer in Lake County was damaged it leaked about 100 gallons of transformer mineral oil.
Help also came from the South Dakota Wildland Fire unit. Crews responded to extensive tree damage at Lake Herman and Oakwood Lakes State Parks. Those two parks were the hardest hit by the storms as 600 trees were damaged or toppled.
In all 19 state parks were damaged by the May 12 storm system.
The state’s Department of Transportation also helped with debris clean-up at state parks, on highways and in some cities.
The letter also cites other damage and responses from state agencies.
FEMA worked with state and local officials to assess the damage in the state.
“We’re looking at them in terms of, ‘Is it beyond the means of the state or county to handle on their own?’” FEMA spokesman Phil Wernisch said of damage to qualify for a federal disaster in a June 6 KELOLAND News story.