One Nation helping Oglala Sioux recover from wind storm.
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Many families remain homeless after a powerful wind storm destroyed structures on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation two weekends ago.
But a victory today in front of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council left displaced residents at least a little more certain about the future.
"When an individual loses their home, there's really no words for it," said Michael Sierra, one of many -- about 10 families worth -- who have been living at the Prairie Wind Casino and Hotel since the July 21 storm. Their stay was almost cut short when the Council asked the families to leave by Wednesday morning, due to an upcoming powwow that had the hotel booked up.
A successful 11th-hour appeal to the Tribal Council on Tuesday by the displaced residents reversed that decision.
But that victory doesn't resolve all the issues. "We do have a lot of questions about who's going to help and who really cares about our situation," Sierra said. One man who definitely does care is Wayne Weston, emergency manager for the Oglala Sioux Tribe. "We're trying to get temporary emergency shelters in for the people," he said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has said the shelters will be arriving in the next week or two. "FEMA doesn't respond unless the damage is over $1.1 million," said Weston, adding that they're still assessing damage estimates. He thinks there may be another reason FEMA was so quick to respond. "We are running on three state of emergencies within the Oglala Sioux Tribe," one for the hantavirus death last month, one for the drought, and now this one.
So trailers are on their way. But some claim that's like putting a band-aid on a broken limb. "It's a temporary solution, but what is the permanent solution?" Sierra asked. "The housing on Pine Ridge is terrible for all of our people"
The Tribe has received some donations of food and clothing from other groups, including One Nation out of Colorado Springs.
If you'd like to donate, contact Weston with Emergency Management or tribal spokeswoman Donna Salomon.