Weathering the Storm – Together

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Weathering the Storm – Together


By: Governor Kristi Noem

June 28, 2024


Nothing gives life quite like water. We rely on it every single day for nourishment, for cleanliness, and so much more.


But that same simple liquid can also cause devastation in a very short period of time. Unfortunately, South Dakota experienced that firsthand in recent days. Historic flooding caused by heavy and sustained rainfall filled our rivers, some of them reaching crests at unprecedented levels. Families in about 30 counties are suffering in the aftermath.


South Dakotans link arms and work together to get through the worst of situations. Every single day since before these storms started, I have been in these communities to help them prepare, make decisions, and deliver resources. I have also been so blessed to have been able to hear such incredible stories of grit and teamwork to weather this storm. Young teenagers in Canton went door to door helping people clean out their flooded basements. Boat rescue crews conducted dozens of tricky rescues, often in the middle of the night, to keep South Dakotans safe. One local contractor personally provided the Department of Transportation with enough clay to finish construction of a crucial levee that kept the entirety of North Sioux City from being underwater – avoiding a fate like we’ve seen in towns downstream in Iowa.


But we’ve experienced more than our share of devastation. Farmers have had their crops wiped out and their barns and homes destroyed. Families around McCook Lake have seen their homes washed away entirely. Daily, I have seen the aftermath with my own eyes – it’s unbelievable – and we are doing everything in our power to help them through this difficult time. We had the administrator of FEMA at McCook Lake on Thursday, and she is going to do everything in her power to get these families help as soon as possible.


This is not our first time witnessing the destructive power of water. In 2019, my first year as governor, a bomb cyclone hit almost the entire state. At one point, 63 out of our 66 counties were declared federal disaster areas. Before that, massive flooding in 2011 and 2014 impacted many of the same communities that were hit hardest in this recent crisis.


We learned lessons from those earlier floods. We built levees stronger and higher. We developed new plans to get through the worst of the situation. As a state, we invested in reinforcing and rebuilding dams to make sure that we can hold back these powerful rivers to the greatest extent possible.


But any mitigation plan is just that – it mitigates the disaster. It will never help us avoid disaster entirely. We are but men and women. God still controls the storm – “Even the wind and the sea obey him.” We will put our communities back together. We will learn from this storm, as we have in the past. And we will come out of this stronger than ever before.