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    Posted May 30, 2011 by
    South Dakota

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    Flooding on the Northern Plains, Reservations Preparing to Avoid Potential Disaster


    May 30, 2011

    Flooding on the Northern Plains, Reservations Preparing to Avoid Potential Disaster

    By Tamra Brennan



    Photos used with permission and provided by Nichole Winans and “Standing Rock Stay Afloat”

    Residents living along the Missouri River from North Dakota to Nebraska are preparing for potential flooding as the United States Army Corp of Engineersbegins the flood release from four dams along the River including Garrison, Fort Randall, Oahe, and Big Bend.

    Areas across the Plains are in crisis mode due to the recent flooding. Record amounts of rainfall, snowmelt and continuing rain throughout the region, adding further saturation to already devastated lands. The Crow Reservation in Montana has been in crisis mode and recovering for over a week, with a majority of their Reservation underwater.

    Tribal Lands in North and South Dakota along the Missouri River that could be affected by the release floods include, the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux Tribe.

    The unpredictable weather patterns over the past year have caused devastating damage with blizzards, ice storms and floods. These natural disasters continue to create hardships to many impoverished communities on Reservations throughout Montana, North and South Dakota. Statistically, the Reservations in South Dakota have the highest poverty rate in the county. These disasters inflict additional economic hardships to the people and Tribes.

    As of this morning, 1,700 NorthDakota National Guard memberswere deployed in the Bismarck and Mandan areas to assist with the flooding control. Bismark’s local news station Kfyrtv, announced that Senator John Hoeven and Governor Jack Dalrymple today urged the Army Corps of Engineers to deploy a response team and deploy assistance to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

    In 1944 Congress approved the construction of four dams, including Garrison, Fort Randall, Oahe and Big Bend. This act was a direct violation of Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Water Rights due to failure of prior consultation with the Tribes. Thousands of tribal members were permanently displaced from their homes, loosing hundreds of thousands of acres of prime land along the Missouri River. In 1992, Congress awarded Standing Rock Sioux Tribe a settlement of ninety one million dollars for the loss of their land.

    The United States Army Corp of Engineers MissouriRiver Mainstem Reservoir Bulletin dated May 30, 2011 states the Garrison Dam located above Standing Rock, has begun increasing the water flow to 85,000 cubic feet per second. During the week it will be increased to 120,000 and again to 150,000 by mid-June.

    According to a FAQ sheet on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribewebsite, the Tribe has declared a flood emergency and is working with agencies to begin Federal and other assistance. Emergency shelter assistance for victims of flooding is in the process; however no information is available at this time.

    FEMA announced on May 28, 2011 an Emergency Declaration for Missouri River Flooding, which includes seven counties and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

    Residents are currently preparing with sandbagging, in an effort to protect their homes and land. The Tribe has set up a sand bag distribution center behind the Tribal Roads Department, for additional information contact 701-854-8504. Information on how to effectively use sandbags is also available on the Tribes website.

    Community members in each District are uniting together in volunteering their efforts to stop the rage of water that could be heading their direction, within in the very near future. Men, Women, children and elderly are all working together to help their community in need. Mavis Mutchler & Ole Little Eagle, elders (80+) years old arrived from Bull Head, SD to assist in the sand bagging.

    Three Affliated Tribes Member and lifelong resident of Standing Rock, Nichole Winans and her family have been working nonstop to create awareness for the need for assistance and calling for help. People from the local community are helping anyway they can, stopping by to bring food and water to help the volunteers that are sandbagging. Nichole stated, “ I was born and raised here and have NEVER seen the water as high as it is now. I am really truly amazed on how people are coming together.”

    Some areas have already been affected, with water progressively reaching closer to the road. The Tribal Roads Department is working diligently on creating road berms and sandbagging alongside major roadways.

    The Standing Rock Tribal Community is seeking volunteers to assist with sand bagging efforts. If you are able to assist, please contact the Roads Department. A “Standing Rock Stay Afloat”Facebook page has also been set up to keep the communities informed.

    Due to the extensive flooding zone along the Missouri, travel has become limited for residents. Normally many tribal members would travel to Bismarck or Mandan to stock up on supplies, groceries, medical and other necessities. Provisions could soon become limited for the communities in the remote area of Standing Rock, due to lack of deliveries. Supplies will be needed such as bottled water, personal hygiene items, diapers, food and medical supplies.

    The Catholic Indian Mission in Fort Yatesis accepting monetary or supply donations. Donations can also be sent directly to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe P.O. Box D Fort Yates, ND 58538 (701)854-8500. Please specifically earmark your donations for the Standing Rock Flood Relief.

    The 24 hour Emergency Management contact numbers are as follows: Phone: (402) 995-2448; (402) 449-1519 Fax: (402) 995-2450

    Mni Wiconi....Water is Sacred. Respect the power of Mother Earth and everything she brings to the people.


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