Many on the Pine Ridge Reservation have been stranded in their homes after first a blizzard and now flooding from snowmelt have ravaged the area, and many others in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa, reports the Rapid City Journal. Roads and driveways have been made impassable, and many homes are surrounded by water.
The Oglala Sioux Tribe’s emergency management team, which is made up of only three permanent staff members, has been working tirelessly with help from volunteers and the Rapid City Fire Department to evacuate residents and deliver food and supplied to those stranded.
South Dakota State Representative Peri Pourier (D-Pine Ridge) has also been working to help organize relief efforts on the reservation. According to Representative Pourier, it has been difficult to determine exactly how many people have lost water and where it has been restored, as each of the tribe’s nine districts maintain separate records. Governor Kristi Noem’s office reported last week that 8,000 residents in Oglala Lakota County were left without access to water; the state has since deployed National Guard soldiers and water tanks to the area to provide drinking water.
What is necessary to assist in this ongoing crisis is more manpower, resources, and equipment, according to Jesse Big Crow, a planning and coordination specialist for the tribe’s emergency management team. Representative Pourier called for more federal funding and better communication among federal, state, and tribal governments for this and future disasters.
Donations for the relief effort can be made to the Oglala Sioux Tribe via the Tribe's Treasurer's Office which can be contacted directly at 605-407-0626 for more information on how to properly and legally make donations to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.