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Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

By The Associated PressJune 19, 2019

Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, June 18

Help arrives in wake of flooding

It wouldn’t really be accurate to say that the cavalry has arrived in the Yankton area — and in many other counties across South Dakota — but the fact that officials from agencies such as FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have set up offices in Yankton to cope with the recent fallout from the spring storms can be seen as an encouraging sign.

That sign is a simple one: Officials are on the ground now and ready to offer some direction to those who have been impacted.

The officials are here because the Trump administration approved South Dakota’s disaster declaration request about 10 days ago. That opened the door to a lot of options for relief and recovery. In the days since, the Press & Dakotan has received a steady flow of press releases from various agencies trying to get the word out that those agencies are ready to help in whatever way possible.

For instance, FEMA has set up shop at the Yankton County Emergency Management office at 807 Capital Street and is there to “provide in-person support to individuals and businesses that were impacted by local flooding this spring,” according to one of those aforementioned press releases.

FEMA is really the starting point for any federal aid needed to help deal with recovery. According to Brian Hvinden, an external affairs specialist for FEMA, the local recovery center will include representatives from several state agencies who can help people with their questions and concerns.

“We want people to avail themselves of the opportunity to meet with folks if they’ve already registered or if they want to meet with folks to make that initial registration,” Hvinden told the Press & Dakotan.

Meanwhile, the SBA has set up a center at RTEC on W. 21st St. to help business owners who may have been either directly or indirectly impacted by the flooding.

“The center will provide a one-stop location for businesses to access a variety of specialized help. SBA customer service representatives will be available to meet individually with each business owner,” Tanya N. Garfield of the SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West said in a press release.

It really isn’t the metaphorical cavalry that will put life back the way it was, but these agencies can serve as helping hands to start you on your way toward where you want to be.

They can offer you consulting and provide direction. They can help you dot the i’s and cross the t’s, so to speak, as you wade into the long process of recovery.

They can give you options and help you take the best steps forward.

It’s important to keep these agencies in mind. They are here to help. They are here for you.

Yankton’s FEMA Disaster Recovery Center and SBA Business Recovery Center both offer business hours of 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays. The deadline for registering with FEMA is Aug. 6.

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Madison Daily Leader, June 17

Invite kids to follow Apollo 11 anniversary

This summer is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in which astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

For those who remember, the mission captivated Americans and many others around the world. Few events have created such unique, positive focus worldwide.

An estimated 1 million people watched the launch in person in Florida, and it was televised live in 33 countries, with an estimated 25 million viewers in the U.S. alone. The pages of The Madison Daily Leader filled in many details not seen on television.

The whole mission was a bold fulfillment of a challenge by President John F. Kennedy during a speech at Baylor University in 1962. He said the United States should put a man on the moon within a decade.

It was just the catalyst the scientific community needed, although some Americans questioned the $24 billion price tag. Most were simply astounded that it was possible.

Fifty years later, perhaps we aren’t as amazed by science as we were then. We’ve seen so many scientific accomplishments in many fields, and electronic technology has dramatically altered life for many.

Even so, landing a man on the moon still seems astounding -- which causes us to think we should encourage young people to read and watch the anniversary specials this year.

One special that might appeal to the smartphone generation is an app that helps users relive the Apollo 11 mission. It will use videos, images and audio recordings from the mission to take users on an augmented reality journey from the Earth to the moon with real-time tracking simulation.

We think the 50th anniversary is a new, great opportunity to inspire young people in science, and we hope they seize the chance.

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Black Hills Pioneer, June 15

A joint effort is needed to fix roads

Northern Hills counties need all the help they can get to improve roads and bridges damaged by snow, rain, and flooding this spring.

We know from living here that precipitation can be feast or famine. This year our cup runneth over.

The Sturgis/Fort Meade reporting station of the National Weather Service showed 8.63 inches of precipitation in May alone for a total of 12 inches for the year. Just down the road in Piedmont, the National Weather Service reports 10.41 inches of precipitation for a total of 16.19 inches for the year to date.

Belle Fourche received 5.58 inches of rain in May and sits at a total of 9.93 inches for the year. Lead had 7.29 inches of rain in May and Spearfish 7.43. Both locations have recorded more than 14 inches of precipitation for the year.

Meade County Commissioners passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency.

In May, Gov. Kristi Noem requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration saying an “historic severe winter storm of rare intensity” hit in South Dakota on March 13, followed by rapid snowmelt and flooding.

She sought FEMA assistance to help with repairs for damage done to both public property as well as to individual homes and businesses. A preliminary damage assessment indicated about $43 million in damage to public infrastructure.

President Donald Trump approved the disaster declaration. Another declaration is anticipated to include damage sustained since that initial event.

The saturated ground tests even the best roads, and those roads that were already seeing wear and tear now face amplified degradation.

It’s nearly impossible for the county to maintain the roads it has, let alone find the means to fix roads that have been damaged by an over-abundance of moisture.

Resources and manpower in the counties are stretched to their limit. And not all roads will see adequate maintenance.

As residents of the areas affected, we must do our part. When “road closed” signs are posted please heed the warning. Don’t drive around the barrier. The sign is there for a reason.

Be patient. Butte County encompasses an area of 2,266 square miles with 800 miles of road. Meade County covers 3,483 square miles with about 1,000 miles of road. Lawrence County is 800 square miles with 408 miles of roads.

Our local counties and the state must do their part also by enforcing load limits on our roads. We pay the property taxes to build and maintain these roads. Law enforcement needs to step up and on occasion bring out the portable scales to catch culprits who further degrade our roads.

In true West River South Dakota fashion, we must all pull together to solve this problem and bring our roads back into drivable condition.

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