FEMA looks at damages in rural South Dakota

Local News

BALTIC, S.D. (KELO) — Instead of sprouts of corn, wheat, and beans; you’ll likely see water flooding fields all over South Dakota. That’s what FEMA is looking at on Tuesday. The agency is in rural Minnehaha County looking at all the damage from ongoing flooding from spring storms. FEMA has been in South Dakota this week and last week, checking out damages to counties, infrastructure, homes and properties. 

The water pooling in rural Minnehaha County is as calm as a lake. However, underneath the surface, farmers are drowning in worries over what it’s doing to their fields. 

“This is a field out here. It’s probably not going to get planted this year,” Jason Gearman, Minnehaha County emergency manager, said. 

County leaders and FEMA gathered one mile west of Baltic at 250th St and 473rd Ave. FEMA is gathering cost estimates and measuring the damage to fields and washed out roads.

“I’ve talked to several farmers who have been around for quite a while and they’ve never seen it like this,” Gearman said. 

All of this water is rushing over a road like a river. It washed it out, creating a 20 yard gap in the road farmers and families rely on every day. It’s costing them a lot of time, money and stress.

“That’s part of the impact that would go into the report is the impact to agriculture. Say the farmer may not be able to get to the fields,” Kevin Helland, FEMA public assistance group supervisor, said.

Helland says the agency will spend all day in this area, checking out as many townships as it can. This washed out road is one of many in the county. 

“Obviously with this one being so much larger, we’re going to have to get all the way down to the road base, shoulders, all the materials that go into repairing the road and in this case reconstruct where it’s washed out,” Helland said. 

All of this information could help bring a disaster declaration, which could mean the money and assistance to help farmers and families in this area get closer to recovery. 

“I’ve learned more in three months than I could ever learn in ten years if this wouldn’t have happened. Unfortunately it did, but you know, we’ve got to get through it,” Gearman said. 

This information will go to Governor Kristi Noem to request a disaster declaration. The federal government will approve or deny that. 

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