The Ponca Tribe donated 18 pallets of water to the Santee Sioux Tribe, whose reservation was hit by unprecedented flooding. Photo: Ponca Tribe

Santee Sioux Tribe slowly 'getting back to normal' after unprecedented flooding

'We’re hopefully going to have our water back on'
Donations coming in from fellow tribes

In the wake of unprecedented flooding, the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska is seeking donations of bottled water and baby supplies, even as it continues to make repairs to damaged infrastructure.

After a record amount of snowfall, melting and flooding, the tribe in northeast Nebraska suffered a water line break and a brief power outage last week after five power lines were toppled by floodwaters and ice. The tribe was forced to evacuate some elderly citizens and families with children to its casino just south of its main community.

On Monday, the tribe was still struggling to repair damage to its water system, though its electricity had been restored.

“We’re kind of getting back to normal, hopefully,” said Santee Sioux Chairman Roger Trudell on Monday by phone.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Santee Sioux Chairman Talks About Flooding and Relief Efforts

He said he expects the tribe’s water system will be repaired by the end of the day Monday.

“We’re hopefully going to have our water back on before the day’s over,” he said. “The problem there is that it won’t be potable for a few days until this thing kind of gets straightened out.”

In the meantime, the tribe will continue to need donations of bottled water, he said. The tribe also needs other supplies as well, including personal hygiene items, pampers, baby food, formula and baby wipes.

A GoFund Me page also was collecting donations to help pay for repairs to the tribe's water system.

Chairman Roger Trudell of the Santee Sioux Tribe. Photo: South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations

Over the past week, dozens of communities across Nebraska have seen historic flooding following a devastating snow and rain storm last week that was preceded by several weeks of record snowfalls. With temperatures rising, most of the snow in the state has finally begun to melt, swelling creeks and rivers and leading to the collapse of dams, bridges and roads throughout the state.

Trudell said several tribes have stepped up to help during his people’s time of need, including the Winnebago, Ponca, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Yankton Sioux.

“I just got off the phone with Shakopee,” he said. “They’re working on getting us some assistance also.”

He said the Red Cross donated baby supplies, and the Ponca Tribe donated 18 pallets of bottled water, or nearly 1,300 cases of water. The Winnebago Tribe also provided water and baby supplies.

Chairman Frank White and the first lady from Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska pulled in with a truck load of baby supplies and water!1

Posted by Sid A. Tuttle Sr. on Sunday, March 17, 2019
The Winnebago Tribe delivered a truck load of baby supplies and water to the Santee Sioux Tribe whose reservation was hit by unprecedented flooding. Post: Sid A. Tuttle Sr.

Trudell said he is deeply grateful by the outpouring of donations.

“A lot of these tribes are bad off as us, and they’re still putting out everything they can to help us,” he said. “You think over the years people have lost their heart, and then you see it again. It really humbles a person.”

Other tribes in Nebraska have been affected by flooding as well, including the Winnebago and Ponca tribes. In Winnebago, heavy rain and melting snow led the Omaha Creek to overrun its banks and flood some citizens’ homes, said Chairman Frank White.

“We have flooding in our basements, damage to some of the structures, but not that severe,” he said.

Declaration of State of Emergency and Flood update from Chairman Larry Wright Jr. #poncaflood2019

Posted by Ponca Tribe of Nebraska on Thursday, March 14, 2019

The tribe issued an emergency declaration for its community and casino about 20 miles to the east in Sloan, Iowa. On Monday, the Missouri River continued to overrun its banks, leading to water creeping up around the WinneVegas Casino, though it remained open.

The casino flooded in June 2011 when the Missouri River overran its banks.

“We are open and operating as normal,” the casino’s Facebook page announced on Monday. “The interstate and road to the casino is dry.”

Trudell said the emergency declaration should provide the tribe access to FEMA’s resources and technical assistance from the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Ponca Chairman Larry Wright Jr. said Monday that his tribe planned to continue to provide support to the Santee Sioux.

He said several tribal families have been impacted by the flooding in Nebraska, including one family that suffered significant damage to their property caused by flooding and debris. The family was actually stranded for some time, he said.

He said one of the tribe’s properties in Niobrara in northeast Nebraska was severely damaged.

“We had a building that was essentially destroyed with the ice and river,” he said. “Part of it washed away. The other part of it was heavily damaged with the chunks of ice. Some of them were as big as cars.”

He said several tribal citizens were forced to evacuate their homes in Norfolk and the tribe decided to open up its service center in that community to provide housing for them. Nearly 40 people ended up using the facility, Wright said.

Thank you Hyvee Yankton for helping us put together a community meal so quickly! We appreciate all your help! Thank you...

Posted by Santee Community Schools on Sunday, March 17, 2019
Santee Community Schools: Community Meal

On Monday, he said the tribe would continue to gather supplies to take to Santee, including a load expected to arrive on Thursday. He said the Winnebago Tribe also planned to host roundtable discussions and meals in Niobrara and Norfolk on Monday, March 25.

He said more information would be provided on the tribe’s Facebook page.

“It is truly amazing to see this and is a reminder for us, that buildings and property don’t define who we are – our people do,” he said in a statement to his tribe’s citizens. “We will work together to help our tribal citizens, while also helping those in need in the communities in which we live.”

Ponca Express and Maintenance dropping off flood supplies to Headquarters. #poncaflood2019

Posted by Ponca Tribe of Nebraska on Monday, March 18, 2019

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