Disaster/Environmental Emergency

Disaster/Environmental Emergency: Winter Storm | South Dakota
Affected Tribe: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation | http://www.swo-nsn.gov/
Inside/Outside PWNA’s Service Area: Inside of PWNA’s regular service area

Impact on Tribe: On Christmas of 2016, Lake Traverse experienced high-velocity winds across the reservation, along with freezing rain, snow and ice accumulations. Power was knocked out for several days in Sisseton, South Dakota, causing pipes to freeze and leaving the entire reservation in the dark. Food pantries, elder centers and gymnasiums opened their doors for warmth to those who could make it. The tribal chairman’s request for a federal declaration states, “…efforts to provide emergency shelters, medical supplies, generators, and other services prevented the widespread power outages from having greater negative impacts. However, the cost to provide these services, as well as the expected costs for cleanup, imposes financial hardship on tribal operations.” Although Lake Traverse suffered numerous severe weather events in 2016, none prior to this received federal aid.

PWNA Aid Requested: On Dec. 30, emergency aid was requested to assist about 200 Elders and other members impacted by power outages. PWNA coordinated the request, initiated by Eileen Johnson of the Enemy Swim Elderly program, through Geno Locke of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Food Pantry.

PWNA Disaster Response:

  • 10,809 pounds of emergency meals, water, and snacks shipped
  • 48 winter boxes filled with disaster blankets, batteries, candles, emergency meals and personal hygiene items
  • $15,914.96 worth of supplies, including 7 pallets from PWNA

Other: The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate is one of nine federally recognized tribes in South Dakota. Spanning seven counties in South Dakota and North Dakota, the tribe has about 13,177 enrolled members, with nearly 11,000 of them living on the reservation. Per capita income is reported as $18,754 (2010 Census), and the poverty rate is about 22%.

Emergency/relief photos and links:
See photos of the storm throughout South Dakota at:

For other news about the storm, visit these pages: