Road conditions make it difficult to distribute donations on the reservation

Published: Mar. 30, 2019 at 5:12 PM CDT
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Problems in Pine Ridge continue with blocked roads and water issues, but organizations are bringing in donations to help in any way they can. Some of these organizations are sending semi-trucks from out of state.

Donations are brought in to Pine Ridge from near and far. The most recent arrived late Friday night from Missouri with multiple pallets of bottled water for residents affected by the waterline breaks.

"They get their water back on a little bit from a break then there's another break so they need clean drinking water and that's a big concern and a big priority for us so the outreach that we've had the people contacting us wanting to just donate water, it's been amazing," says Jesse Big Crow with emergency management for the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

As quickly as donations arrive volunteers are there to help unload. Shortly after district leaders stop by to pick up what they need. Sometimes the donations last less than a day in the building.

"It was really cool coming out and see the Sioux Nation and see you guys banding together and working together and like I said I'm really grateful to be able to be a part of these efforts," says Cameron Smith, owner operator for FHLines.

More semi-trucks with donations are expected to arrive here at the emergency management building, but the one issue staff and volunteers still face is getting the supplies out to people.

"But people live two or three miles off the road so you go from highway 18 which is paved to BI 32 which is gravel and the road back to their home is dirt," Big Crow says.

Even though flood water has gone down in some areas in Pine Ridge, those dirt roads are muddy making it impossible to drive a car. This causes problems for people living in those areas and for volunteers trying to bring supplies.

"We have one UTV that we stretch across the nine districts on the reservation so we kind of have to do a lot of planning and logistics," says Big Crow.

As the issues with flooding continue, donations are still being accepted at the emergency management building and Big Crow hopes more can be done to distribute donations more effectively.

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