Just short of two weeks after an epic blizzard ravaged KOTA Territory, first responders say their response is transitioning from emergency response to recovery and cleanup.
Pennington County Emergency Manager Dustin Willett says it will be weeks, if not months, before the cleanup is complete. He did say, however that people in the area and cleanup crews have already made significant progress.
The carcass burial sites are open, and the sites for debris removal are up and running. As early as next week, curbside pick-up will begin in Rapid City.
Willett also says mechanisms are in place to track the storms cost. It's too early to estimate exactly how big the bill will be, but when it's tallied Pennington County and surrounding areas could receive a check from FEMA. "The recovery effort continues to happen," Willett said. "Obviously it's a marathon, there is a long way to go but the people are doing amazing as are the agencies," Willett continued.
The past week and a half has without a doubt been taxing for first responders. For people who were stranded during the storm or without power for days, there is a certain level of frustration. While there have been some complaints on our KOTA Facebook page and to emergency management about response times and other matters, Willett says all of the responding departments did a phenomenal job. "The fact that we did not lose a single life to the storm in Pennington County I think stands as a testament in itself of how effective and how well the responding agencies actually performed," Willett said.
Willett says multiple outside agencies have traveled to the area to help with cleanup efforts.