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FEMA Begins Tallying Up Cleanup Costs



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Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as FEMA are in seven counties across the state assessing the damage from the spring ice storm. Two of those counties are Minnehaha and Lincoln.

For the next few days a team of five FEMA officials will be in the area doing what they call a Preliminary Damage Assessment, or a PDA. This assessment is an initial look by federal officials at just how much damage there is and how much it will cost to cleanup.

With piles of debris still all over the side streets of Sioux Falls, it’s clear three weeks after the spring storm, cleanup is far from over. And city leaders said the price tag for all of it is estimated to be several millions of dollars.

“It is going to be a significant cost, and so we will pursue that and hopefully obtain that deceleration,” said Regan Smith, Sioux Falls Emergency Management.

So for the next few days, officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as FEMA, are in town to help the state receive just that. A disaster deceleration, that would give South Dakota federal aid for some of the cleanup costs.

 “You have this much vegetation falling it definitely impacts the citizens in general and any time you have this many citizens in jeopardy, it’s not good,” said Ron Pevan, FEMA.

Pevan said he will be focusing on the debris that’s fallen that affects the community as a whole. Not damage done on individual properties.
 
“I am looking at the debris that is on the road, on the sidewalk and affecting the community at large,” said Pevan.

Environmental and Historic Preservation Specialists with FEMA will also be assessing the damage and cleanup, to make sure it complies with federal regulations.

“So regardless of whether or not it is a federally funded project, or a home owner working individually, you want to make sure you’re not running into any problems on the back end,” said Portia Ross, Environmental and Historic Preservation, FEMA.

But Pevan said what they’ve seen so far has been incredible, and the operation the city has put together is something everyone should be proud of.

“I look around and things are done the absolute best ways, under the best practices, and everything seems to be in place,” said Pevan.

FEMA officials said they will be done with their preliminary assessments by Thursday. Then all the information they’ve collected will be sent to Gov. Daugaard, who can then make the disaster deceleration.
    
FEMA officials said the deadline to request a disaster deceleration from the federal government is 30 days. So Gov. Daugaard has to declare the state a disaster area by May 10. If the state were to receive assistance, up to 75 percent of cleanup costs could be reimbursed.
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