Tester pushes to cut tribe’s cost of recovery in wake of Rocky Boy’s flood disaster

Chippewa Cree Tribe still lacking basic needs like health care and clean water

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – As rain continues to hamper recovery efforts on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, Senator Jon Tester today told tribal leaders that he is pushing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cut the cost of the disaster for the Chippewa Cree Tribe.

Tester discussed the ongoing flooding on the reservation during a previously scheduled meeting today with tribal leaders Bruce Sunchild, Montana Senator and Tribal Vice Chairman Jonathan Windy Boy, and Dan Belcourt.  They reported that the reservation got significant rain in the past 24 hours, on top of record-setting floodwater late last month and earlier this spring.

“To overcome this disaster, everybody in the community will have to pitch in to help their neighbors and friends any way they can,” said Tester, who serves on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.  “Rocky Boy’s is going to be picking up the pieces for a long time, and right now we’re focused on making sure the folks there have the basic things they need to survive like clean drinking water, health care and roads.”

President Obama declared the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation and all of Hill County a disaster area on July 10.  Tester, Senator Max Baucus and Governor Brian Schweitzer recently asked the administration to lower the tribe’s cost share of recovery efforts from 25 to zero percent, as it occasionally has for other economically depressed disaster areas.

“Jon has been incredibly supportive in this whole effort,” Windy Boy said.  “He knows the size of this disaster and the challenges we face because he’s seen them firsthand.  And things got moving immediately because he’s been on top of this issue.”

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but we have a lot to be thankful for in our U.S. Senators,” Sunchild said.  “Our Tribe is still lacking basic needs, and it’s going to take working together like this to get our critical infrastructure back in place.”

Baucus has worked closely on the issue, teaming up with Tester to push FEMA to respond in the wake of the flooding.

“The flooding at Rocky Boy’s was truly a disaster, but we all are committed to working together to get folks the resources they need,” Baucus said. “Since this disaster happened, I’ve been in constant touch with FEMA officials and folks on the ground, and Jon and I will continue to push to do everything we can to help those who need it most”

Tester toured flood damage the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation on June 26.