FEMA looking at damage in Lotta neighborhood

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Homeowners hope a FEMA visit will them closer to closure, nearly two months after devastating floodwaters took over their neighborhoods. FEMA is looking at damage all over the South Dakota. Many are hoping for assistance, but that’ll take an disaster declaration.

“You can see the water level right here,” Debbie Saufley said, pointing to a wall inside her house. 

Saufley used to have pictures, furniture, and everything else to remind her of home.

“All the electrical was under water,” Saufley said. 

Now, there are different clues showing why, after 34 years, she doesn’t live there anymore. 

“My bathroom has a crawl space underneath it. When I walked in, two days after the rain, it sounded like I was standing on a beach and water was slapping against the shore,” Saufley said. 

On Tuesday, Saufley and her neighbors in the Lotta neighborhood were talking with FEMA representatives. The agency is doing a preliminary assessment of this neighborhood. The flooding was so bad, first responders had to rescue people by boat

“What we’re trying to do today is get a sense of the scope. How many homes, what kind of impact, areas of livability, that sort of thing,” Brian Hvinden, FEMA spokesperson, said. 

FEMA will send all of this information to the governor to make a disaster declaration request to the federal government.  

“We don’t know until we gather it, you know, it is a very high bar. I’d really caution homeowners not to put their hopes on this. Definitely contact their insurance people,” Regan Smith said. 

“South Dakotans are resilient and they’ve already gotten through a lot of that process. Luckily, there’s been volunteer agencies and just neighbors helping neighbors, doing those clean-up efforts,” Hvinden said. 

Saufley says this is the third time her now former home flooded in the last nine years. She’s ready to leave behind any reminders of what she’s gone through, and focus on making a new home on higher ground. 

“It’ll be nice to have the chapter over and go on,” Saufley said. 
 

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