FEMA checking June storm damages in Butte County - KOTA Territory News

FEMA checking June storm damages in Butte County

How much damage did June tornadoes and flash flooding do to South Dakota's public property?

Disaster investigators are assessing claims that may lead to federal aid for 12 counties and the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Tom Barnard is back in Butte County, researching the latest storm damage.

He was last in the county doing similar work in 2009. This time, Barnard is among a dozen Federal Emergency Management Agency field workers assessing the reported damage to roads, bridges and other property from storms occurring June 13-20.

"It's a basic assessment. There's no guarantee they will get a declaration," Barnard said Monday.

The historic high water is blamed for sweeping a Colorado woman from a vehicle on U.S. Highway 85. She remains missing. As far as damage, Butte County Highway Superintendent Don Adams says last month's storm was not the worst he's seen, however, the repair costs are significant.

"A ballpark with all our roads, $300,000 I figure, it's pretty close," he said.

Adams guided Barnard to repaired areas and routes still closed as of Monday. Indian Creek bridge areas seemed to have suffered the most.

At one crossing, inspection team members worried out loud. "You want to drive on this? I don't even want to walk on it."

FEMA workers say verifying the damage claims in all the counties should be completed before the end of this week.

The summary of public facility damages will go to Pierre. Governor Dennis Daugaard will decide whether to pursue a presidential disaster declaration. If that happens, there will be more studies before the federal government helps to pay for storm-related cleanup costs.

With or without Washington, Don Adams says road repairs must continue in Butte County.

"We've got a few culverts to put in, mostly gravel washes, and a little bit more bridge work," he said.

To qualify for federal aid, South Dakota must prove the June storms caused $1.1 million in damages to public roads, bridges and other public property.

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