Yankton Sioux Tribe Fights the Flooding Battle

LAKE ANDES, S.D.– Continued flooding in Lake Andes has the Yankton Sioux Tribe is fighting the flooding battle, too. They’ve been experiencing flooding since March. Within the last two weeks, the water has risen to even higher levels.

“Sometimes it feels like the end I suppose,” says Business and Claims committee member, Greg Zephier. Flood waters have been consuming the Yankton Sioux Tribe’s vital resources, and it’s gotten worse within the last two weeks.

The community has filled 4,000 sand bags in efforts to keep the water out, but it still managed to find it’s way in. When the water started rising, it slowly started to seep through the ground and into the basement of homes.

Now, many residents are evacuated, “A lot of our families don’t want to leave their homes. I hate to say it but we might just have to direct them to leave, you know, if it gets too bad.” Some homes are completely boarded up.

Shirley arrow, a member of the Yankton Sioux tribe, says it’s hard to see the destruction it’s caused, “We’re not rich people but what little we have, we work hard for like our washers and dryers. They’re gone and that’s hard.”

Zephier says the flooding has started to cause health concerns too, “There’s a danger in the standing water, in the ground water that’s seeping up.” Arrows says, “The basements are all full of mold. A lot of the children are sick. A lot of them are getting sores.”

And in case their wall of sand bags can’t hold the water out, “There is teepee and tents up there just incase.”

All but one road leading into the community has been submerged by the flooding. Zephier says it’s creating concerns on what to do if there’s an emergency, “You’ve just got this, right here, the backroad. In an emergency, what’s going to happen? We’ve got no where to go.”

Despite the damage and destruction, Zephier manages to see a silver lining, “I see destruction, but what I also see is opportunity, you know, to go rebuild newer, you know, more sustainable communities… we need help.”

Yankton Sioux Tribal Chairman, Robert Flying Hawk, last Friday requested assistance from Governor Noem, specifically for any or all use of the national guard. Today, the Department of Public Safety declined that request, saying other options are immediately available to the tribe. The full letter is included below.

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