Early October blizzards result in cattle losses, lasting power outages

Clean up continued in Chadron and Crawford, Neb., Friday which sustained substantial tree damage from last week's blizzard. Photo: Nebraska Emergency Management Agency

Clean up continued in Chadron and Crawford, Neb., Friday which sustained substantial tree damage from last week's blizzard. Photo: Nebraska Emergency Management Agency

Story by Haley Whisennand, Casey Sill, Veronica Grizzle, Heather Haskins, and Brianna Foster, NewsNetNebraska

Parts of Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming were hit with heavy snow late last week, accumulating up to four feet in some places. Heavy snowfall killed thousands of cattle in the areas.

On Friday, projections of livestock losses in northwest Nebraska indicated between 763 and 873 head of cattle in Dawes County and 206 cattle and 9 horses lost in Sioux county.

Clean up continued in Chadron and Crawford, which sustained substantial tree damage. Windy and rainy weather was hampering the clean-up effort on Friday.

“We have made quite a bit of progress,” said Nan Gould, Region 23 Emergency management Director. “It’s a daunting task. There is still a lot to do.”

Gould, said livestock losses were more substantial than officials had earlier estimated they would be.

Gould also said that the government shutdown has a direct impact on the counties that were effected by the snow.

Neb 2100413_storm_damageINebraska ranchers could apply for disaster relief under the Livestock Indemnity Program. It would pay ranchers a portion of the animal’s market value for cattle killed in the snow storm. The program though is part of the 2008 farm bill extension that expired Oct 1 – the first day of the U.S. government shutdown over a congressional budget impasse. With the U.S. Agriculture Department shuttered, livestock producers also are unable to file paperwork detailing their losses with USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

The Nebraska Cattleman’s Relief Fund is raising funds for producers in Nebraska. Here is information from their Facebook page:

 It is with heavy hearts that we write this post in response to last week’s severe winter storm that caused extreme cattle losses to producers in northwest Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. A winter storm producing rain followed by several inches of heavy snow and severe wind has caused catastrophic cattle losses to many producers in Sioux, Dawes and Sheridan counties. Recovery efforts are underway in these counties but there have been no official count of losses, but we do know that the loss of head is devastating to many cattle producers.

If you would like to help producers in Nebraska, a contribution can be sent to the Cattlemen Relief Fund, PO Box 1125, Chadron NE 69337.

Also, the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund was established in South Dakota to provide support and relief assistance for South Dakota livestock producers. To donate visit, https://www.giveblackhills.org/27677.

Silvia Christen of the South Dakota’s Stockgrowers Association did not know specific numbers, but heard estimates of losses between 5 and 20 percent of cattle herds, or about 60,000 cattle. South Dakota is the country’s sixth largest cattle producer with about 3.8 million head.

The early October blizzards also left hundreds of people without power, downing trees and power lines due to heavy snowfall.

Supervisor of Marketing & Member Relations for Grand Electric Cooperative Rachel Eggebo said that as of now, 1,000 people are without power in northwestern South Dakota. The company covers approximately 10,000 square miles, 9,000 of which are still dark after last week’s storm. One hundred workers from the coop are working to restore the power.

Eggebo said that Perkins County and Harding County were hit the hardest and that the storm repair costs are estimated in the millions.

The South Dakota Rural Electric Association updates a status map for several electric companies in the northwestern South Dakota coverage area daily, showing which areas are still affected, how many members are without power and how many poles are still down in which county.


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