September 18, 2019

Noem visits Lake County to view flood damage - Daily Leader Extra : Local News

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Noem visits Lake County to view flood damage

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Posted: Friday, September 13, 2019 3:35 pm

Gov. Kristi Noem visited Madison on Thursday to gather information about how local officials were dealing with flooding and flood-related problems in the city and in Lake County.

Both the city and county were dealing with problems stemming from power outages, street and road closures, and just too much water on Thursday after a thunderstorm delivered another 4 to 5 inches of rain to the Madison area.

Noem visited Lake County's Emergency Operations Center that was set up at City Hall. The public officials meeting in Madison on Thursday afternoon included Mayor Marshall Dennert, Lake County Commissioner Kelli Wollmann, Madison Police Chief Justin Meyer, Sheriff Tim Walburg, Madison Fire Chief Randy Minnaert and Wentworth Fire Chief Terry Reck.

Chief Meyer told Noem that local officials were trying to inform the public that there were many unsafe roadways in Madison and Lake County. Meyer showed the governor video of flooding and described the first-responder efforts in Madison.

Noem said she had traveled to Madison from Watertown to learn about the extent of the flood damage. She was also in contact with Mitchell-area officials about flooding in Davison County. In addition, state emergency management officials were asking other South Dakota counties about damage in their areas.

Noem said due to water-saturated ground and heavy rainfall, South Dakota was dealing with widespread flood problems.

"Our big concern right now is getting people to safety," Noem said.

According to Noem, local officials are asking for an emergency disaster request for federal help in recovering from the flooding, The governor said 58 of South Dakota's 66 counties were asking for assistance.

"The way that the roads look, it looks like we'll be making the request," Noem said.

If South Dakota was approved for FEMA disaster relief, the federal government could provide 75% of funding for road and bridge repair. State government would provide 10% of repair funding and local government would need to provide 15%.

Noem said individual flood relief for home flood damage isn't provided as often, but a large amount of flood damage had occurred in South Dakota.

"There might be an opportunity," Noem said about assistance for repairing flood damage to homes.

She added that businesses could receive assistance from the federal government's Small Business Administration.

Noem said that 2019 had so far provided "...the largest natural disaster in South Dakota." She also spoke about her concerns for additional problems developing this winter and in the spring because soil across the state is saturated with water.

On Thursday, Walburg said local officials were asking residents living in neighborhoods next to Lake Herman to voluntarily evacuate from their homes before nightfall. County officials asked for voluntary evacuations from residents living along Territorial Road and Pelican Point Road and near Dirks Resort.

Due to conditions at Lake Herman on Thursday afternoon, officials barricaded the northern entrance to Territorial Road, which runs along the eastern side of the lake.

Meyer explained to Noem how the water flow among the lakes in Lake County was connected from Lake Herman to Lake Madison to Brant Lake. After leaving Brant Lake, the floodwater would continue south.

Secretary Kelly Hepler of the S.D. Game, Fish & Parks Department declared late Thursday that temporary "no wake zones" were established on Lake Madison, Lake Herman and Brant Lake in Lake County and Lake Mitchell in Davison County due to high water levels.

The no wake zones are enacted within 300 feet of the shoreline for the entire lakes, and they will stay in place until high-water conditions subside.

After meeting with local and state officials at Madison's Emergency Operations Center, Noem and her husband Bryon met a couple of residents who sought shelter at Madison's Downtown Armory and Red Cross volunteers at the shelter. Judy Cross of Madison said she appreciated the visit from the governor.

"These problems started in our state last March, and the disasters have continued to hit the state," Noem said. "We appreciate the remarkable efforts that people have made to take care of each other."

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