The state is appealing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of South Dakota’s request for individual assistance programs to help residents impacted by record flooding.
After receiving the denial letter, Gov. Dennis Daugaard directed the state Office of Emergency Management to open a call center and provide an online survey form for reports of major damage to homes of residents in 11 counties hardest-hit by the flooding. That effort resulted in several additional reports of major damage to homes.
“Whether the additional damage is sufficient to convince FEMA to reverse its decision, we don’t know,’’ the governor said in the release. “We must make this appeal, however. Those South Dakotans who sustained property damage from this record flooding deserve nothing less than our best effort.’’
If the appeal is unsuccessful, Daugaard said the state will continue vigorously to pursue other programs from both government and voluntary agencies to help individuals and communities recover over the coming weeks and months, according to the release.
South Dakota has received a presidential disaster declaration because of flood damage to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure in 37 counties. The state is seeking a similar declaration to make federal assistance available to individuals in 11 counties hardest hit by flooding in 2011.
Individual assistance programs were requested for Charles Mix, Clay, Day, Hamlin, Hand, Hughes, Kingsbury, Lyman, Stanley, Union and Yankton counties, according to the release.
To qualify for FEMA’s individual assistance, a structure must be a primary residence located in one of the 11 named counties and have major damage. By FEMA definition, major damage includes collapsed basements walls, more than 18 inches of water on the main floor of a home or other damage that would require 30 days or more to repair.
The last time South Dakota qualified for a presidential disaster declaration for individual assistance was in 2007, when early-May storms caused sudden, widespread flooding in the Aberdeen area. The average individual payment in that incident was slightly less than $2,000, according to the release.