Thousands trapped on Pine Ridge burn clothes for warmth in wake of storm

Anna Halverson delivered her message in a tone of concern tinged with chills and fatigue on her toes.

Winter storm Diaz covered Pine Ridge Reserve with over 30 inches of snow. This alone was an incredible amount of snow. But it was amplified by high winds that brought the area to a halt under snowdrifts several feet high.

Semi-trucks and trailers block a major highway on the Pine Ridge Reservation during a winter storm Diaz.

Halverson, who represents the Pass Creek neighborhood of the Pine Ridge Reservation, described their dire situation to the Journal on Thursday.

“It was really hard,” she said. “We don’t have the proper equipment here to handle what’s going on. She’s got several house-level drifts that stretch 60, 70 yards at a time.”

It’s been over ten days since the storm started, Diaz has moved on and the skies are starting to clear, but the recovery process is just beginning. Mr. Halverson was not dug out of the house until eight days after his storm. Others are still trapped and can only be reached by snowmobile.

Every time we open the road, it seems like the snow is rushing in,” she said.

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It’s an incredibly frightening situation, she explained, because many of the snowy people aren’t on dialysis treatment or are dealing with other medical emergencies. It ran out and drifted for four days before attempting to leave.

“We also talked about using Drone Drop to get the baby to take Enfamil because he was hungry,” she said.

But Mother Nature isn’t done yet.

If being trapped in a formidable wall of ice and snow wasn’t enough, the sub-zero temperatures brought by the Arctic front have taken a toll on regions already suffering. degrees down to minus 20 degrees, and unfriendly Midwestern winds shredded those numbers with wind chills of minus 40 and minus 50 degrees.

Western South Dakota Total Snow Report December 13-16

Western South Dakota Total Snow Report December 13-16

Such cold weather would be deadly and another blow to a reservation already crippled by the conditions, Halverson said.

“Most of our members use wood stoves,” she said. “You can’t get them by delivery because of the roads. Many members across the reservation don’t have propane because propane companies can’t reach and fill the tanks. Even now, since the storm began, no one has been able to reach these members who have not had propane gas.”

Re-Members, an Oglala-based service organization, provide firewood to families on every corner of the reservation, but snowdrifts make their wood stocks inaccessible yet.

“Our firewood pile remains inaccessible,” a December 20 Facebook post said. Given the circumstances, it is nearly impossible to operate our equipment and it is not safe for our staff to work in the conditions we are facing.To keep Oyate safe during this difficult time I appreciate the efforts that many people are making. ”

Halverson says anyone trying to use an electric heater won’t be able to keep the house warm. She could go to her mother’s house to keep her family warm.

In one place, she said, there was a power outage every 18 hours. Those with cars tried to use them to stay warm.

Reservation residents are resorting to last resort to ward off unimaginable cold.

more:Sioux Falls Regional Airport will close most of Friday due to blizzard

“Across the reservation, I’ve seen members burning their clothes in woodstoves because they couldn’t get wood,” Halverson said.

The situation deteriorated so quickly that Oglala Sioux President Frank Starr Coming Out wrote a proclamation declaring a state of emergency.

“Due to these current blizzard conditions, snowfall, high winds and snowdrifts have closed all BIA and Tribal secondary roads on the reservation,” wrote Star Comes Out. Blizzard conditions pose an immediate threat to tribal government operations, public safety, and the health of tribal members who currently do not have medical care such as dialysis, ambulance services for crisis intervention care such as heart attack and childbirth. , and private transportation to secure food and other necessities.”

Halverson praised his efforts to get help for the people of Pine Ridge.

“We don’t live on reservations,” she said. “We are surviving on the reservation. We are in serious need of help.”

This article originally appeared in the Sioux Falls Argus Reader: Thousands trapped in Pine Ridge burn clothes to keep warm after storm

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