RAPID CITY, S.D. -- Officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) praised Oglala Sioux tribal officials for providing an estimated 36,000 meals to victims of the tornadoes, severe storms and flooding that struck the Pine Ridge Reservation beginning June 4.
The storms tore through parts of the reservation, damaging homes and displacing hundreds of people. "Tribal leaders decided to handle the immediate needs of the victims within the tribe," Del Brewer, deputy federal coordinating officer for FEMA said. "They elected from day one to supply food and shelter and found the resources to do it."
The tribe reacted within hours of the storms to make sure everyone had something to eat and a place to stay. As word of the disaster reached other parts of the region the tribe was able to continue feeding victims with donations from other tribal communities as far away as Michigan. Vital aid also arrived from Rapid City. "I didn't know we had so many friends," said Stanley Looking Elk, vice chairman for the Oglala District.
Since June 4, the tribe has been able to supply an average of 640 meals per day. "Everyone who has registered with FEMA has been placed in adequate housing and is now able to prepare their own food," Brewer said. Accordingly, the food service ended July 31.
"I feel like we've gone over the hurdle," Looking Elk said. "It's working, but it has taken time."