Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pine Ridge blizzard emergency, 11 days later

Eleven Days Later, Disaster finally coming to a close for Pine Ridge Reservation
by: Tamra Brennan
Photo: Keloland TV
November 15th, 2008
The power was restored today, in the community of Wanblee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. As of this afternoon the communities of Potato Creek and N. Allen were still without power, however it is expected to be restored by no later than Sunday. Once all power is restored to the Reservation, the Incident Command Center located at the Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, will close down. The closure is expected by the end of this weekend. The crew is in the process of cleaning up, in order for the students to return to school on Monday morning.
Monica Terkildsen, the co-Incident Commander of the location, stated today that many lessons were learned during this crisis. There were errors along the way; however their successes were tremendous, everyone pulled together in this crisis to help the people in need. Their first goal from the beginning was "life safety for the people." There has been rumors this past week, that fatalities occurred, due to the storm, but Monica stated this was inaccurate information and their was no loss of life. This was a relief to hear.
The President-elect Theresa Two Bulls, has also visited the command center and brought supplies. She will be inaugurated into office in two weeks.
Monica stated they will use this incident to help educate the new Tribal President and Vice President, with an orientation on how to respond in a crisis situation and what they learned during this process the past ten days.
Francis Big Crow, the Incident Commander stated the result of 60+ mph winds that slammed Western South Dakota with the blizzard on November 5th, 2008, in addition to 2.5 inches of ice on the cable lines, caused approximately 2,500 power poles to snap. This left hundreds of people without power clear across the Eastern side of Pine Ridge to the boarder of the Rosebud Reservation. Many areas of Rosebud are still without power.
Due to the remoteness of some areas, several people that were stranded without power and heating, were forced to walk many miles to arrive at the shelter.
Law Enforcement Ranger and Operations Manager of the Wanblee Command Center , Troy Billing stated, that he along with seven other vehicles were stranded along the highway during the blizzard. He and other crew members were on the road, rescuing people that were stuck. Once the blizzard finally hit, seven vehicles ended up stranded for 36 hours on the roadside. Snow drifts were past the side of the cab of their pickups. They had radios to communicate, however travel was impossible in an attempt to rescue them. They were also in communication with KILI Rez Radio during their ordeal, updating them on road and weather conditions. This enabled KILI Radio to share first hand info with the general public.
During the eleven day crisis the BIA Police and Tribal Police assisted the Command Center in delivering needed supplies and water to the stranded people in homes across these communities. Supplies will continue to be delivered until power is fully restored to each community.
Everyone at the Command Center is extremely grateful for the support and assistance that the public has shown to their communities. They each gave a big “woplia tanka” to everyone throughout Indian Country that has assisted them, in this crisis.
It will take some time for residents to fully recover from this crisis. There are many people still in need. The Center is requesting that any future donations be brought or sent to the following address: Evergreen Ministries; Attn: Gus Craven; 210 Wasaba Ave; Wanblee, SD 57577 at 605-462-6002. All donations made will continue to be distributed to the members of the communities affected by this disaster.
There are many areas on the Rosebud Reservation that are still without power and heat. They also have centers set up to assist people with supplies, food and shelter.
You can bring or mail donations for the Rosebud Reservation to the following addresses: St Agnes Church; Attn: Jeanne Young; 1st St. N; Parmelee , SD 57566 at 605-747-5696
or He Dog School; Attn: Blizzard Relief; He Dog School Road; Parmelee , SD 57566
We would like to thank NAMAPAHH BlogTalk Radio for the interview today, which included several rez assistance organizations, Wanblee Command Center and NDN News.
Listen to NAMAPAHH's program at:
We will be continuing to work with these centers and send out updates and info as it arrives. Thank you everyone for all of your assistance, throughout Indian Country. We all need to stand together during this time of crisis, on the reservations.
For future updates, information and past articles, about the blizzard crisis please visit our website at and our blog at


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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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