By Rep. Kristi Noem
When my dad had his accident that cost him his life, my mom didn't have the option of calling 911. It wasn't available at that time in our area. So when my mom heard that Dad was caught in a grain bin, she started calling neighbors. Finding no one at home, she started flipping through the phone book looking for help. Eventually, she called the local elevator and friends and neighbors started to arrive within minutes. But what about those precious and crucial minutes when Mom had to struggle to find help? The helplessness she felt during those moments is something she will never forget and it’s something we’ve discussed often over the years as we think back on the terrible day she lost her husband and we lost our dad.
That's why I am so grateful for men and women who are professionally trained and equipped to help all of us through life’s most trying times.
As I write this column, thousands of South Dakotans are still without power and many more are digging themselves out of this April winter storm. Just when we thought spring was here and winter was behind us, Mother Nature had another plan. I, along with Bryon and the kids, continue to pray for the families, communities and businesses affected by this storm.
We should also take the opportunity to thank the public safety telecommunicators who have worked tirelessly to answer phone calls from residents without power or from drivers surrounded by broken trees and downed power lines. April 14th – 20th is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week and a great opportunity to thank our area dispatchers.
Their rapid response allows South Dakotans to receive the prompt care and protection they need in life’s most difficult moments. These local police, fire and medical professionals are often the “unseen” first responders who are able to quickly grasp the severity of a particular situation and accurately relay that information through the proper channels.
South Dakotans have demonstrated time and time again that we are a resilient people. From the 1972 flood, to the Spencer tornado in 1998, or the Missouri River flood in 2011, we rally together and lend a helping hand.
While there is no doubt that the cleanup and recovery process has only just begun across the state following this latest winter storm, I continue to be amazed by the way South Dakota communities rally together to care for one another and to assist those in need. I hope you’ll reach out to one of my offices if there’s any way I can be of assistance to you, your family or your business. Contact information is listed below:
Sioux Falls: 605-275-2868 / Watertown: 605-878-2868 / Aberdeen: 605-262-2862 / Rapid City: 605-791-4673 / Washington, D.C.: 202-225-2801 / Toll-Free: 1-855-225-2801