Teaming Up Against The Flood

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For the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen a lot of flooding in KELOLAND. 

In Sioux Falls, officials set up the Emergency Operations Center. 

It’s now closed down after 14 days, but at its peak, local leaders spent a lot of time there. 

Mornings at the Emergency Operations Center in Sioux Falls started with an update from the National Weather Service. 

Then came the updates from the different agencies in the room.

The room was packed with city officials, county and state agencies, potentially some at the federal level, and nonprofits. 

It’s just a place where everyone can come together, understand, These are our objectives. These are our problems, Sioux Falls Emergency Manager Regan Smith said. 

The Chief Executive Officer of the 211 Helpline Center was there for meetings. 

We receive all of the direct information on what’s happening with that disaster response and we’re able to tell our callers directly what they need to know, Helpline Center Chief Executive Officer Janet Kittams said. 

The Helpline Center is an important player in the flood response in communities across KELOLAND. 

The nonprofit’s phone lines started getting busier about two weeks ago when the first round of flooding hit. 

We had people coming in working some extra hours to make sure all of our calls, all of the people contacting us were supported and received the information they needed to respond to the flood, Call Center Director Taylor Funke said. 

Since March 13, the Helpline Center has fielded more than 1,200 flood related calls. 

The most popular type? People wondering how to volunteer. 

It’s just so encouraging to hear people who just heard about the stories of people who have been affected by the flood and wanted to reach out and do what they could to help their community, Kittams said. 

They also help people who are looking for flood-related information, which helped take the pressure off of Metro Communications. 

They too had a seat at the table during the meetings at the Emergency Operations Center. 

We get calls from stalled vehicles, to water rescues, to My basement’s flooded. Can you help? Metro Communications Interim Direcotr Jesseca Mundahl said. 

Interim Director Jesseca Mundahl says dispatchers took on even more responsibility in recent weeks by updating the list of road closures in the area. 

Just a lot of coordinating resources, so we’re calling to ask for barricades, or calling this place because we need this service. That takes a little bit more time than the standard emergencies we have, Mundahl said. 

It’s one example of just how important teamwork can be in the event of a flood. 

It’s a lot of hard work. It’s very gratifying. Again, if we wouldn’t have this in place, it would be chaos. With this, everybody’s working together, rowing the boat in the same direction. And when those incidents or problems come up we can solve it as a team and it just makes it that much easier, Smith said. 

While the EOC is closed, a team is still monitoring river levels and coordinating recovery efforts, damage assessments and cleanup. 

The Helpline Center is also transitioning into recovery work. 

If you need assistance, just call 211. 

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