October blizzard has lasting impact on ranchers - KOTA Territory News

October blizzard has lasting impact on ranchers

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It was a devastating storm, killing more thousands of cattle, and creating a hardship for ranchers. Since the October blizzard there has been an outpouring of support called the Rancher Relief Fund. Ranchers have to apply to get the help and the application deadline is Tuesday.

Third generation rancher, Jacob Rausch, recently applied to the Rancher Relief fund. He's one of hundreds of producers in western South Dakota who are in desperate need of assistance after the October 4th blizzard.  

"Financially, it was a crushing deal. It took pretty well everything for me starting out, pretty well everything that I had," said Rausch.

His family lost more than 75 percent of what they run year in and year out.  

"With myself and my mom and dad we lost about 180 head of cows and probably 90 head of calves," said Rausch.

So far, the state has verified producers lost more than 21,500 cattle in the blizzard. But help is on the way. The rancher relief fund has collected $3.1 million.

"When we launched the fund October 8 we knew there were people out there that cared about the ranchers we just didn't know that there was going to be more than 5,000 of them from across the United States and the world," said Regina Jahr, Executive Director of Black Hills Area Community Foundation.  

It's generosity Rausch appreciates.  

"Without all that support and gratitude I guess I don't think it would be possible to keep moving on like we have and if anything it gives us hope," said Rausch.

But the deadline to qualify for funds is Tuesday. Regardless if Rausch receives funds, he said he will figure out a way to get by it financially. But he is not sure if he'll ever get by it emotionally.  

"It was almost like losing a bunch of friends all at once," said Rausch.

About 400 people have applied to the Rancher Relief Fund. The deadline is December 31. To apply, go to the Rancher Relief website or call 877–708–4357.

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