Since last week’s winter storms, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety (DPS) has provided direct assistance to South Dakota’s tribes.
“Our entire department, especially the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), worked closely with the tribes to discuss needs and resource requests that resulted from this storm,” said DPS Cabinet Secretary Craig Price. “The partnerships that we have with other agencies helped us act quickly and deploy resources to assist the tribes and their residents.”
DPS provided services to the tribes, including:
- Providing situational awareness and regular contact with tribal emergency managers from OEM starting last week before the storm hit;
- Communicating regularly between the tribes and OEM with the Governor’s Office, SD Department of Tribal Relations (DTR), and FEMA;
- Coordinating with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Black Hills LifeFlight to transport a dialysis patient in critical condition to Rapid City;
- Coordinating with the US Department of Health and Human Services, SD Department of Health, SD Health Care Coalition, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to ensure more than 40 dialysis patients could receive treatment;
- Coordinating stranded motorist rescue among the Fusion Center, OEM, the Highway Patrol, and the Department of Transportation;
- Working with the South Dakota Association of General Contractors to determine what contractors could work with local and tribal jurisdictions for snow removal;
- Providing for SD Department of Transportation v-plow to get to critical patients on the Pine Ridge reservation;
- Working with the SD Department of Transportation to clear roads on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations;
- Seding OEM field coordinators to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe on Sunday, Dec. 18, to meet with tribal leadership to further discuss needs and resource requests; and,
- Sending two loaders/blowers to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and coordinating with SD Department of Transportation to deliver propane, firewood, and food to communities.
Other state agencies also were involved in helping the tribes.
“In addition to clearing and maintaining the Interstates and state highways during this massive storm system, the South Dakota Department of Transportation was able to assist the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Rosebud Sioux Tribe with equipment and winter maintenance personnel,” said Joel Jundt, Secretary of Transportation. “Coordination of available DOT personnel and equipment resources, such as v-plows, tractors, blowers, and loaders, was organized by our Area Engineers.”
DTR Cabinet Secretary David Flute said the assistance and cooperation from all agencies was key. He said tribal officials, such as Rosebud Sioux Tribal President Scott Herman, appreciated the state’s efforts.
“The state has taken great efforts to assist the tribes throughout this winter storm, along with the rest of the state that was impacted by this extreme weather,” said Secretary David Flute. “I have been in contact with President Herman over the course of this storm, listening to his concerns and relaying information from him.”
The Fusion Center, Office of Emergency Management, and Highway Patrol are all agencies of the Department of Public Safety.