By email from the Diocese of South Dakota:
DATE : 2/11/2010
Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Ice Storm in the Dakotas
On January 20, the Episcopal Dioceses of North and South Dakota were
affected by a devastating ice storm and subsequent blizzard that left
more than 14,000 people without power or access to clean water. In the
wake of this disaster, Episcopal Relief & Development has responded to
requests for emergency aid from the Dioceses of North and South Dakota.
The already shaky infrastructure of indigenous communities living on the
Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Reservations was further crippled by
the storm. The severe weather downed over 3,000 power poles. Resulting
power outages led to the loss of perishable food items and to equipment
malfunctions at the local water treatment facilities, contaminating the
region's supply of drinking water. Freezing temperatures caused
significant damage to most families' furnaces and the pipes in many
residences froze and burst. It is estimated that most homes will
sustain $2,000 to $5,000 in damages.
The Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, which is home to 14
Episcopal congregations, has declared a state of emergency. On both
reservations, emergency shelters have been created in schools, community
centers and churches to accommodate those left living without heat and
hot water. People are sharing the scarce resources available to them.
Virginia Traverfie, Senior Warden of Emmanuel Church in Whitehorse,
described to Episcopal News Service how the church mobilized to help
people: "The church is about a mile from us. For people who didn't
have food, we took what we had there and together with coffee, sugar,
whatever we had, we passed it out to the community here." She continued
by saying that leaders had set up shelter for those still without power.
"There are power lines laying everywhere. It hit the whole reservation
Although the storm has passed, reports indicate that some areas could be
without power for up to a month while services are restored. With no
heat, electricity or running water, these communities continue to face
temperatures well below freezing. They are bracing for the possibility
that this winter's worst storms are yet to come. The most severe winter
weather usually does not hit this area until March or April.
In North Dakota, the diocese will use emergency funds to provide
critical relief in the form of lodging and food. Once immediate needs
have been met, they will begin restoration work on area residences
damaged by the storm. The Diocese of South Dakota will employ emergency
funds to provide food, mend broken pipes, restore access to clean water
and supply propane for heating homes.
"Although much of the world's focus is on the problems in Haiti, it is
crucial that we do not forget those in need here at home," said Abagail
Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development's Senior Vice President for
Programs. "Episcopal Relief & Development is committed to supporting
the communities of the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations as
they recover from these storms and get back to life as normal."
To support Episcopal Relief & Development's work, please visit
www.er-d.org or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to
Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.
Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and
development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States and an
independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from
Jesus' words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving
the Millennium Development Goals. Together with the worldwide Church and
ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development strengthens
communities today to meet tomorrow's challenges. We rebuild after
disasters and empower people by offering lasting solutions that fight
poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.