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Federal Emergency Management Agency denies aid for individuals in wake of South Dakota storms

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SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota — South Dakota residents who suffered due to recent flooding and a tornado will not be eligible for federal aid, though other forms of help remain available and donations continue to pour in.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied the state's request for individual assistance in the wake of the weather disasters, the state Department of Public Safety said. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told the state in a letter that the damage to homes and businesses was not enough to warrant federal help.

"Flooding and tornadoes impacted many residents and damaged numerous homes and businesses," Kristi Turman, director of the state Office of Emergency Management, said in a statement issued Thursday. "Unfortunately, FEMA declined to find that we meet their requirements for Individual Assistance programs."

Gov. Dennis Daugaard said the denial was a disappointment and that state officials could appeal the decision.

The last time South Dakota qualified for individual federal assistance was in 2011, after homes and businesses were damaged when the Missouri River flooded. This year's flooding was caused by prolonged heavy rains last month, particularly in the southwest.

PHOTO: FILE - This June 20, 2014 aerial file photo shows floodwaters from the Big Sioux River surrounding a farm near Jefferson in southeastern South Dakota. The state Department of Public Safety says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied the state's request for individual assistance for people impacted by recent flooding and a tornado in the state. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told the state in a letter that the damage to homes and businesses is not enough to warrant federal help. (AP Photo/The Sioux City Journal, Tim Hynds) NO SALES  MAGS OUT  TV OUT  ONLINE OUT MANDATORY CREDIT
FILE - This June 20, 2014 aerial file photo shows floodwaters from the Big Sioux River surrounding a farm near Jefferson in southeastern South Dakota. The state Department of Public Safety says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied the state's request for individual assistance for people impacted by recent flooding and a tornado in the state. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told the state in a letter that the damage to homes and businesses is not enough to warrant federal help. (AP Photo/The Sioux City Journal, Tim Hynds) NO SALES MAGS OUT TV OUT ONLINE OUT MANDATORY CREDIT

The town of Wessington Springs also was devastated by a June 18 tornado that damaged or destroyed dozens of buildings and displaced about 80 people.

Donations continued to pour in three weeks after the storm, including more than 100 boxes of supplies collected at a distribution center at United Methodist Church. No more clothes are needed, though household supplies such as silverware, flashlights, laundry soap and kitchen bags were still needed, the Rev. Marvin Avery told The Daily Republic newspaper.

Judy McPhail, whose family home was lost, visited the distribution center Wednesday.

"This has been so helpful," she said, patting the piles of women's clothing. "I need work clothes. I feel like I tell people at work, 'You're probably getting sick of this outfit, but it's all I have.'"

Residents of Wessington Springs and Canton, which was hit hard by flooding, can apply to the state's Housing Opportunity Fund for grants of up to $5,000.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., on Friday said home and business owners in Minnehaha, Lincoln and Union counties can apply for low-interest disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Those counties are eligible because they are next to Iowa counties where a major disaster was declared.

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PHOTO: FILE - In this June 19, 2014, file photo, homes are seen damaged a day after a tornado tore through the area in Wessington Springs, S.D. The state Department of Public Safety says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied the state's request for individual assistance for people impacted by the tornado and recent flooding in the state. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told the state in a letter that the damage to homes and businesses is not enough to warrant federal help. (AP Photo/Argus Leader, Joe Ahlquist, File)
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