Sixty-three of South Dakota’s 66 counties submitted disaster declarations after this year’s devastating blizzards, floods, and tornadoes. In Governor Kristi Noem’s budget address for fiscal year 2021, she outlines a plan to recover from this year’s disasters and mitigate future damages.
The governor’s budget proposal includes a partnership between state and local governments to manage the high cost of this year’s natural disasters. The state already offers some assistance, but Noem says local governments have expressed concerns in the face of record-breaking damages.
“To answer this need, starting with the 2019 disasters, we will now offer loans to cities, counties, townships and tribes from the Emergency and Disaster fund. The state will continue to pay for 10% of the cost of disasters, but now will offer loans for the other 90%.”
Noem says the state will also help communities achieve funding matches for FEMA disaster mitigation grant programs.
“It’s our belief that the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Pre Disaster Mitigation Grant Program will help cover project costs to improve infrastructure resiliency, provide longterm solutions to repetitive loss situations and help avoid reliance on federal dollars for future recovery.”
The governor’s budget proposal uses state money to lower community match requirements for those federal grants from 25% to 15%. Emergency and Disaster Fund loans will also support local mitigation projects.
State Senator Ryan Maher of District 28 says these programs could benefit the entire state.
“Just to help bridge that loan between the time the federal government, the FEMA kicks in, and when they actually are expending that money and actually doing better infrastructure than what was currently there to make that go further into the future so the next time there’s some flooding those roads don’t wash out again and we’re right back to square one starting out with what we were doing.”
Maher’s district includes the Cheyenne River Reservation, which saw expansive infrastructure damage from flooding this spring.