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Rosebud residents work to keep each other warm during recovery efforts

The Fredericks load firewood in Tea, SD, to bring back to the Rosebud Reservation.
Andrew Kronaizl
The Fredericks load firewood in Tea, SD, to bring back to the Rosebud Reservation.

Wayne and Alex Romero Frederick load firewood onto a trailer just north of Tea.

The Lakotas from Okreek travelled to Sioux Falls to gather wood and other provisions to bring back to their neighbors.

Alex said they’ve dealt with extreme wind, snow, ice and cold the last two weeks.

“A lot of the firewood that was stored we can’t get to. A lot of the creeks are snowed in so deep so that we can’t cut wood. A lot of people ran out of wood.”

Wayne sits on the Rosebud Tribal Council. He said recovery efforts could take a while, especially as the region anticipates the two coldest months of the year.

“And there’s always going to be a big snow come March. How long is it going to take us to recover? It’s going to take us a year. The broken pipes. The houses that have been lost. That’s just the material things. We’ve lost some people.”

Both Rosebud and neighboring Pine Ridge were slammed with back-to-back winter storms this December. The Rosebud Tribe set up an online donation portal for blizzard relief efforts.

Gov. Kristi Noem activated the National Guard last week. Efforts to haul firewood from the Black Hills to Pine Ridge and Rosebud, as well as help with snow removal, are ongoing.

Travis Eagle Deer is the general manager for Sicangu Propane. He said the company is focusing on larger communities with the mosthomes in need of propane.

Eagle Deer says there’s no shortage of propane, rather an issue of getting trucks through narrow paths with snow drifts on either side of the road.

“That is making it impossible to get to some people’s houses in the community. So, we’re slowly working, removing snow, just so we can get access to certain homes,” Eagle Deer said. “It’ll probably still be a bit before we can get to some of the homes around the area just due to the large amount of snow drifts and plows need to widen roads for us.”

Eagle Deer asks residents to keep paths to their propane tanks clear and to widen their driveways if possible.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
Andrew Kronaizl is a senior at Augustana University. He is from Vermillion, SD, and is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.