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State dispatches more incident management assistance teams to Missouri River flooding

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety has dispatched an Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to southeast South Dakota to help local entities coordinate their response to recent flooding on the Missouri River.

The 10-member team has been sent to Dakota Dunes to assist officials in Union, Clay and Yankton counties. This team will replace the Type 2 Incident Management Team (IMT) team that has been working in the area for the past two weeks.

According to Lola Roseth, Haakon County emergency manager, the western South Dakota IMAT had already been dispatched to Pierre. Roseth was working there nine or 10 days out of the past two weeks.

"We worked out of a Federal Emergency Management Agency truck in Pierre," said Roseth. "That was where we were headquartered. Each of us had individual duties. I started out as a situation unit leader, then I moved to planning section unit leader. I am basically what I would call a trainee. Every incident that I go to, which has been quite a number, I learn so much! Hopefully this will enable me to bring some expertise to the table in the event of a disaster in Haakon County.

Most of the western IMAT has been demobilized and sent back home. During IMAT deployments, team members are paid by the state, not the counties that the members come from. Roseth added, "Haakon County does not have any threats at this time."

IMAT teams were created by the department in 2007 for the purpose of increasing local incident management capability by providing situation assessment, coordinating resource requests, and helping to plan ahead for additional resource needs during and after the incident.

For this flood event, the teams have been and will work with local county emergency management as well as first responders, electrical cooperatives and other utility officials to assess and determine immediate response needs.

The team does not take over incident management activities. It assists local officials in the impacted area with responding to the incident.

The IMAT team members are from South Dakota and include state, city and county personnel who bring a wide variety of expertise including finance, administration, fire, law enforcement and emergency management. Each individual has also completed nearly 200 hours of training. Each time a team is dispatched, they bring all of that experience and training with them.

Currently, there are four teams in the state with a total of 50 people located in western, central, southeast, and northeast South Dakota. The size of the team dispatched is based on the needs of each particular incident. Since its inception, the IMAT teams have been dispatched eight times in addition to the current incident.