Severe weather blamed for 4 deaths on Pine Ridge Reservation

PINE RIDGE S.D. — Four people have died during the blizzard and subsequent flooding on the Pine Ridge Reservation as first responders continue to deal with mud, ice and rising waters.

The Pine Ridge Reservation is now in day five of a state of emergency. The blizzard has passed, but its effects are still devastating the communities. Tribal authorities say four people have died from the effects of storm.

In the recovery process, emergency crews have been facing melting snow, flooding and mud, making gravel roads impassible.

“We’re in need of all-terrain heavy machinery to deliver the basic needs for folks and to evacuate them,” said Candi Brings Plenty, the Oglala Sioux Tribe Emergency Management Team Coordinator.

Additionally, there was a water main break in the community of Oglala, meaning some were without fresh drinking water. Flatbed trucks have been making trips to homesteads all throughout the day.

Tribal leaders are holding daily meetings where they share resources and lay out a plan. Their priorities are assisting the elders, the sick and children.

“We have numerous elders and urgent medical needs that haven’t been addressed,” Brings Plenty said.

According to Tony Mangan, a spokesperson for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, the Tribe has had multiple conversations with the state’s Emergency Operations Center since Thursday about the allocation of resources.

In the meantime, the Prairie Wind Casino is one facility that has been set up as a shelter for people evacuated from the flood areas.

And as emergency crews pull gruelingly long shifts, they’re posed with new challenges: Stress and exhaustion. But despite the challenges, some are optimistic about resiliency of the crews and the communities on the reservation.

“A lot of the younger ones that don’t understand weather like this panic,” said Howard Little Hawk, a community member. “It takes the older ones to teach them and understand this weather to survive.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News