President Joe Biden has approved South Dakota Gov Kristi Noem’s request for a presidential disaster declaration to aid the recovery from June storms that included tornadoes and strong winds.
The disaster declaration allows FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to assist in recovery efforts in six counties: Butte, Haakon, Jackson, Jones, McPherson, and Spink.
A preliminary damage assessment conducted by FEMA in early July indicated more than $1.6 million in storm damage was done to public infrastructure in those counties.
In her letter requesting the disaster declaration, Noem wrote that the storm resulted in a tornado in Jones County, the first in that county since 1999; and straight-line winds of more than 100 miles per hour.
The governor also cited golf ball-to-grapefruit-sized hail; and heavy rains that led to flooding. More than 6,000 customers experienced power outages, and many customers were without electricity for up to four days
FEMA staff will immediately begin working to help governmental and qualifying private-non-profit entities to get federal assistance under the declaration.
A number of FEMA staffers were already in South Dakota under a Presidential disaster declaration for a May 20 storm that caused major public infrastructure damage in 20 counties and on two reservations.