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Blizzard and Flood Response: Emergency and Disaster Declarations Not the Same!

My previous post cited some West River angst about Governor Dennis Daugaard's swift response to the flooding in southeast South Dakota compared to what some perceive as his slow response to the October blizzard West River.

Hold your horses: for the record, Governor Daugaard declared a state of emergency one day after the October blizzard hit, about the same time that it took him to sound the emergency alarm on the current flooding.

The Tweet from rancher Dallas Basel cited earlier refers to declaring "disaster." It is perhaps worth noting the need for care with our words. "Emergency" is what the Governor declares to respond to the immediate crisis. "Disaster" is what we declare to get federal reimbursement from FEMA, which is what Governor Daugaard did for West River on October 31, 2013, four weeks after the blizzard, and which we can expect him to do for southeast South Dakota in a few weeks, when we've all gotten done sandbagging.


  1. Tim 2014.06.18

    Was that comment on the previous post actually from Daugaard's office? Cory, you must be swinging a bigger political club than you think. Still would like an answer to the follow up question about expansion, other than his new standard answer. (It's up to the legislature) And I stand by my post that they take us in west river for granted.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.06.18

    Tim, the comment to which you refer was exactly what it said it was, the Governor's Office correcting a mistaken impression.

  3. Douglas Wiken 2014.06.18

    If west river Caucasians are taken for granted as voting always Republican no matter which yellow dog, west river Native Americans are taken for granted as seldom ever voting. Neither can expect to have much real influence.

  4. Tim 2014.06.19

    Douglas, sadly, I must agree. I talk about it to everybody I know, and some I don't, all I get is Fox News talking points.

  5. larry kurtz 2014.06.19

    Curious whom Dan Lederman will sue over this year's flooding.

  6. Troy 2014.06.19


    You are exactly right. An emergency declaration is a marshaling of resources to either prevent a disaster or mitigate a disaster immediately afterwards. Despite the tragedy of the West River storm, when it was over there was little to be done to mitigate as the cattle were dead.

    The emergency declaration with regard to the flooding is to mitigate a known disaster that is coming. Unlike the West River storm or the flooding in Canton, it came out of nowhere and occurred. Was done and over.

    The disaster declaration is a quantification of a disaster afterwards for the purpose of qualification for mostly monetary assistance to recovery from the disaster. Because it is a quantification, it takes time to quantify the actual damage.

    Pray for success as the people of Union County and the marshaled resources attempt to mitigate what is going to occur.

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