Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ice storm devastation in Indian country

See stories from the New York Times here and from the Wall Street Journal here. Interestingly, the WSJ story led the NYT report by a full five days.

Some 500 power lines went down on Lakota Sioux land in central South Dakota in November 2008 storms; as many as 3,000 more were lost in ice storms that struck about 10 days ago. This excerpt from the WSJ story elaborates on the consequences:
"These events are showing just how painfully inadequate our emergency response capabilities are. Because of one ice storm, we had over 3,000 downed electrical lines and mass power outages," said Tracey Fischer, chief executive and president of First Nations Oweesta Corporation, a national nonprofit working on economic development in Indian country.

"There has been looting of homes and businesses by people desperate for food and water. Schools have been out of session for a week and will likely be unable to open their doors for at least another week," said Ms. Fischer, a member of the Cheyenne River tribe.

With just 10,000 residents spread across 2.8 million acres, many Cheyenne River families depend on electricity transmitted across hundreds of empty miles to run pumps for drinking water, or to power the ignition modules on natural-gas and propane heaters.

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