Red Cross working overtime to provide relief to Pine Ridge Reservation

PINE RIDGE S.D. — As the state of emergency on Reservations across the state continues on, countless organizations have stepped up, donating food, water and money.

The Red Cross of Western and Central South Dakota is working overtime to assist those in need. The Red Cross and other organizations continue to deliver food and water to communities across the Pine Ridge Reservation. Communities like Red Shirt, Pine Ridge Village and Oglala are all receiving aid. Several water main breaks in communities across the reservation have left thousands without clean drinking water.

“Right now, it’s just a dynamic situation that’s taking place,” said Richard Smith, the executive director of the Red Cross. “Their water system gets put back together, then there’s a new place from washouts and then they’re without water again. We’re trying day to day to meet those needs as they’re identified.”

Nearly 100 Red Cross volunteers are mobilizing across the region assisting the Pine Ridge, Rosebud Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

“[It’s] quite an accomplishment when you look at this is not most peoples full time job,” said Smith. “They’re able to jump right right in know the process and start delivering services almost immediately.”

But support to the communities doesn’t end with food and water. Smith said the Red Cross is donating clean-up kits which come with mops, soap and towels.

“Now we’re starting to provide flood buckets and we’ll be going out to do assessments on those homes in the coming weeks.”

Though the state of emergency remains, some are now able to return to their homes. Some community members like Doyle Bad Heart Bull who lives is the community of Oglala are returning home to extensive flood damage.

“[There’s] a lot of water,” Bad Heart Bull said. “We were even using the shovels to scoop it out.”

And as emergency crews and community members continue to deal with flooding and muddy conditions, emergency officials say the cleanup will be extensive.

“We’re still recovering from the hail storm that was at the end of July, and that affected three districts,” said Jesse Big Crow, the planning specialist for Oglala Sioux Tribe Emergency Management. “Now we have the blizzard and flooding which effected all nine.”

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