Flooding that has hit parts of the Midwest hard has nearly paralyzed an American Indian reservation in southern South Dakota, swamping roads, trapping people in homes and cutting off water supplies to thousands.

The situation on the sprawling Pine Ridge Reservation was improving Tuesday, but two weeks of severe flooding could put the Oglala Sioux tribe in recovery mode for months, if not longer, and deal a serious blow to its economy, President Julian Bear Runner said.

“This is going to have a devastating effect on us, I feel,” he said. “The tribe is utilizing any and all of its resources to try to help the communities that have been impacted.”

The prairie reservation is roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined and is home to nearly 20,000 people, about half living in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. Heavy snowfall and a rapid melt this month led to overland flooding, swollen creeks and rivers, swamped roads and broken water lines.


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