Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  With Governor Rounds' preliminary damage assessment from the recent flood now completed in conjunction with FEMA, U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and John Thune (R-SD) and U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) today called upon President George W. Bush to declare a large portion of South Dakota a major disaster area and asked the President to instruct federal agencies to expedite the delivery of all forms of federal disaster assistance.

"This is the next hurdle to cross in the effort to get assistance to South Dakotans after the devastating flooding earlier this month. Last week, I encouraged the USDA to release rural development funds through the 504 housing program to help homeowners facing water damage. I've stayed in constant touch with staff on this and hope the President moves quickly to deliver this necessary aid," said U.S. Senator Tim Johnson.

"I applaud the Governor's effort to request federal assistance on behalf of the South Dakotans recently affected by the severe flooding. I have seen the damage first-hand and spoken to many individuals and families who will need help in rebuilding their lives. Together with the delegation, I will do everything I can at the federal level to make sure this assistance is approved and delivered in a timely manner," said U.S. Senator John Thune.

"This request for federal assistance is a necessary and appropriate response to the substantial damage caused by severe storms across Eastern South Dakota. I toured the damage in Aberdeen and rural Brown County recently, and it is clear that a very large number of families, farms and businesses will be in great need in coming months. Last week, during a meeting at the White House, I raised this issue specifically with the President's top advisors, and I am hopeful the Administration will respond favorably and quickly to this request," said Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Full Letter to the President follows:

May 15, 2007

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Bush:

As members of the South Dakota congressional delegation, we write to express our full support of Governor M. Michael Rounds' request for a presidential disaster declaration for our state. This declaration would greatly assist South Dakota's recovery from the severe weather that hit our state during the weekend of May 4 and 5.

The damage from this storm is evident in numerous communities in the eastern portion of our state. Damages were especially severe in twelve counties including Aurora, Beadle, Brown, Clark, Davison, Hanson, Hutchinson, Jerauld, Miner, Sanborn, Spink, and Yankton. Many of these counties experienced record-setting quantities of rainfall and subsequent flooding, as well as tornadoes and other high winds. The storm caused significant damage to dams, electricity infrastructure, individual homes, cropland, and numerous other facilities across the region. In sum, the economic and emotional toll of this damage will undoubtedly be enormous.

As Governor Rounds' disaster declaration request indicates, state and local officials responded to the storm using resources immediately available to them. These emergency operations activities reduced the storm's impact and accelerated the state's recovery from that impact. Nevertheless, the preliminary damage assessment completed by the state in cooperation with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials makes clear that the scale of the storm's impact exceeds the state's response capacity and therefore justifies federal assistance as specified in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

In light of these considerations, we respectfully request that you declare a major disaster for relevant areas of our state and that you instruct federal agencies to expedite the delivery of all forms of federal disaster assistance for which South Dakota is eligible based upon that declaration. We are pleased to offer any assistance that you may require in fulfilling this request.

Thank you very much for your consideration of this important matter. Please do not hesitate to contact any of us if we can provide you with additional information.


Tim Johnson        John Thune       Stephanie Herseth
U.S. Senate        U.S. Senate       U.S. House of Representatives