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Waubay receives $1.6 million FEMA grant for flood mitigation

Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 6:47 PM CDT
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WAUBAY, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Sitting in a closed lake basin, the city of Waubay is used to the threats of flooding. However Mayor Kevin Jens says two Springs of extreme snow melt and rain have flooded areas of the cit near Bitter and Blue Dog lakes, submerging homes and destroying the city’s sewer system.

“We’ve got several homeowners who have no sanitary sewer, and they have not been living in those homes since early spring.” Jens says.

The city will be receiving $1.6 million from FEMA as part of the administration’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, while the state of South Dakota and the city will fund the rest of the $2.2 million project. The grant will allow the city to buy back flooded properties, allowing homeowners to relocate away from the waterfront. Jens says the grant couldn’t have come at a better time, with the city still reeling from this Spring’s flood.

“This round, the ones that are being affected mostly are again Bitter Lake and Blue Dog. But the ones on the South end being threatened by Bitter Lake, because we lost our sanitary sewer, there’s no putting that system back together."

This is the second time the city has applied for the grant, having dealt with a number of damaging floods in the past few years. Meanwhile, the city is working with the Northeast Council of Governments to lay out a timeline for the project.

“Our immediate concerns are the people who live around the South end of our community, trying to get them taken care of so that they can move forward with their lives.” Jens says.

Jens wants to be able to not only repair the city’s sewer system and buy the homes of those affected by the floods, but hopes to be able to work with homeowners to rebuild in Waubay, away from the waterfront and stay in the community.

“The big thing is, is we try to relocate some of the homes. Some of the homes are being bought out with these homeowners, looking to construct new homes in Waubay so we can keep our citizens here. We’ve got areas that are out of the floodplain.”

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