In the early morning hours of June 20, 2015, a severe thunderstorm with wind gusts in excess of 90 miles per hour tore through the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota. Dozens of trailer homes were destroyed, resulting in one fatality and several injuries. Other losses included downed trees, damaged siding and roofs, broken windows, and the results of power outages.

Buffalo County, where most of the reservation is located, is the poorest county in the U.S, with a per capita income of only $5,213. Only eight percent of the population has full-time, year-round jobs. Even though the storm killed a man, there was little South Dakota news media coverage beyond the first day.

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Diamond Willow Ministries Disaster Recovery Coordinator Dave Thomas helped Crow Creek Reservation come back from deadly storms.

The reservation, home to more than 2,000 Crow Creek tribal members, had little infrastructure to support the community’s long-term disaster recovery needs. Fortunately, Diamond Willow Ministries, a trusted community partner for more than twenty years, stepped into the gap. After receiving a Midwest Early Recovery Fund grant, Diamond Willow Ministries worked to meet the needs of those most vulnerable after the disaster by organizing volunteers, meeting immediate household needs, providing crisis counseling and disaster case management, and developing a long-term recovery committee.

Through their efforts and with the support of the South Dakota VOAD, all opened cases have been closed and the work has turned to building more capacity around disaster preparedness and community resiliency.