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FEMA administrator visits McCook Lake with Noem

todayJune 27, 2024 5

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UNION COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — As communities recover from intense flooding, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was at the badly damaged McCook Lake area on Thursday with FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell and Union County Emergency Manager Jason Westcott.

“Being able to walk the grounds here today and see the really concentrated and truly devastating damage that happened at McCook Lake with sinkholes like I have never seen before and homes that have just been swallowed up in those sinkholes, and that’s why I came here today,” Criswell said.

Over 400 local students volunteer in Rock Valley

“As far as the safety out here, it’s getting more unsecure,” Westcott said. “We’re probably looking at having no more resident traffic through here because we’re worried about collapses, and we also have large machinery moving around.”

As the state recovers, the specific cost of damages to public infrastructure is noteworthy.

“In order as a state to qualify for FEMA assistance I believe the threshold is $1.6 million statewide which we are going to far surpass,” Noem said. “75% of the costs to cover that will be covered by the federal government. 15% then is covered by the state, and 10% is local.”

McCook residents return to damaged homes

“It’s heartbreaking for all of us that this mitigation plan had some failures and we lost some homes,” Westcott said.

A moment after Westcott brought up those failures, KELOLAND News asked him on Thursday to elaborate on them.

“What the plan was out here is earlier, couple years ago they took some homes out in the hopes that if this ever occurred, the water would follow that path,” Westcott said. “And when it started it actually did do what it was supposed to, it was following that path. But the deluge of water and the amount of water that came at us, it wouldn’t have mattered what you would have done. We couldn’t stop it. So that’s what caused the damage out here.”

Noem directed residents to sd.gov, where damage can be reported.

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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