FEMA Housing Lands On Pine Ridge Following Disaster

Dec 9, 2015

A new mobile home near Slim Buttes, Pine Ridge brought in by FEMA to replace one of the homes lost in the spring 2015 storms.
Credit Christopher Mardorf / FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is placing new mobile homes on Pine Ridge following spring  storms and flooding that destroyed and damaged buildings in Oglala Lakota County.

The storms made the already severe housing shortage on Pine Ridge worse.

On Wednesday, December 9th FEMA is opening the doors on one of the first mobile homes to be replaced following the disaster declaration.

In the first weeks of May a blizzard dumped snow on Pine Ridge, rains that followed washed out roads then strong winds tore the roofs off houses.   The Federal Emergency Management Agency says about 350 homes were damaged in the storms to date they’ve ordered 100 mobile homes to replace those that were too far gone to repair.  Brian Hvinden is a FEMA spokesperson.  

“One of the things that FEMA looks at and the government looks at in terms of providing a disaster declaration is the impact on a  community so certainly a small event but that is extremely localized like what we have on Pine Ridge can have a great deal of impact on the reservation,” says Hvinden.  

Tribal officials say the disaster assistance is only a small dent in the long term housing shortage on Pine Ridge, but they say FEMA help is a huge boost to those who lost homes in the spring storms.

 “So what it means for these families is they’re going to be moving into a much more comfortable livable environment,” says Delbert Brewer disaster response coordinator for the Oglala Sioux Tribe.  “Thought the winter they’ll be nice and warm because they’re better insulated and fully repaired, you know, roofs, siding, insulation, flooring all that stuff to make them comfortable livable environments,”  he adds.

Tribal officials tie the effort to restore lost homes with the on-going effort to reduce teen suicide.  Officials say students who don’t have to stress over basic needs like housing are less likely to take their own lives.