Fall rains flood towns, roads in county

An extremely wet year doesn’t seem to end in our area as last week a deluge of autumn rain fell putting the Big Sioux River out of its banks, yet again. This time though the entire Flandreau City Park was underwater. As shown on the left in the middle of the photo, the 100-year old Japanese Gardens dance pavilion’s front entry steps are not visible. The last time the pavilion’s floor was flood damaged, in 1969, it needed to be replaced meaning this time, it may not survive the water either. For many more photos see the Sept. 19, 2019 print edition of the Moody County Enterprise. Photo compliments of Cody Amdahl

Moody County requests disaster declaration

Mid-September rains flooded Trent, caused the Big Sioux River to go over its banks in Flandreau and washed out freshly repaired roads and culverts.
The flooding was worse than the March floods in the area, most observers said. Trent was especially hit hard along the west side of town near the river.
Resident Matt Larson watched the water rise around his home and those of his neighbors.
“It keeps getting higher and higher and higher,” he said Thursday. “It’s way worse than (it was) this spring.”
Several Trent homes that hadn’t had water in them before did this time, said Terry Albers, Moody County emergency management director.
Albers called for the county commission to request a disaster declaration at a Monday special meeting.
County roads that were repaired after last spring’s flooding didn’t have time to settle and are damaged this time around, too, Albers said.
“We have a lot of washed out gravel roads again,” he said. “New culverts have washed out.”
East of Flandreau, a bridge on 486th Avenue has a hole through it, said Sheriff Troy Wellman.
“There’s some places now that are over that weren’t over this spring,” he said of county roads.
Barricades are up but drivers shouldn’t enter water-covered roads because of possible washouts, even if they aren’t barricaded.
Wellman had complaints of semi-trucks removing barricades on the road through Trent, driving through and replacing the barricades, which is illegal.
On Friday, Wellman said more roads could be damaged the longer they stay under water because the water is flowing fast.

Water covered about a third of the town, surrounding houses and filling roads. The Trent Fire Department blocked traffic from going out of town to the west where the Big Sioux had gone over the highway.
“Any direction going out of town was flooded this morning,” Fire Chief Tom Scherff said Thursday. By late in the day, residents could get to Highway 13.
Most Trent residents stayed put, moving vehicles, campers and lawn mowers to higher ground at the church parking lot. Some took belongings to the gym for storage until the water goes down and they can return home.
Basements filled with water and crept into some of the main floors of houses. Estimates on rainfall totals varied with a solid guess of more than 9 inches in two days. Some gauges showed even more.
“Most people just seem to be talking it in stride and taking care of themselves and helping each other,” Scherff said
“A lot of water is coming from side creeks coming in,” he said. “This is the highest a lot of us have seen in Trent.”
Power stayed on during the flood and most people stayed in their homes.
“We’ve got the garage open so it’s just a river going through it,” Larson said. But by Friday, looking out on all of the water was wearing.
“I feel helpless. I’d like to help people,” he said.

The Big Sioux River went out of its banks more than it did with last spring’s flooding but levels didn’t surpass the mark of the spring of 1969 at the dam. In 1969, ice jams caused the water to back up into the park and parts of the community. This year, the flooding is because of the volume of water coming through.
The first crest was Thursday evening at 10 p.m.
Free-flowing water levels at the city park are were high or higher than they were in 1969. But near the museum, this flood’s levels were lower than in 1969
Water was up to the backs of houses on Bridge Avenue and snaked from the back side of Mad Mary’s, surrounded the 4-H grounds and filled the area behind the Flandreau High School football stadium. The rains also flooded the highway on the way out of town to the park entrance and filled Water Street.
Flandreau received 9.74 inches of rain between Sept. 8-12 with the highest one-day amount of 4.58 inches Wednesday night. Tuesday night, the total was 3.47 inches and it rained 0.69 inches on Monday.
School was called off in Flandreau on Thursday.
By Friday morning, water had started to recede. But gauges north of town showed water levels increasing so it was expected that levels might go up again, Albers said.
About seven homes east of the high school practice field had sewage in their basements, said Jeff Pederson, city administrator.
All of the city’s pumps were functional but lift stations were full of fresh water from the rains flowing in. The city put out an advisory asking residents to delay washing clothes or using heavy amounts of water.
“It’s higher than it was last spring, clearly,” Pederson said. “Hopefully, our lift stations are going to withstand any flooding that is going to occur. It’s at a level right now that’s very concerning.”

West of Egan, water went over Highway 34. In town, water crept close to homes. The town had to bag its lift station so river water didn’t get in, said Albers. Some homes had water in the basement.

Two-day rain totals were 11 inches about six miles north of town, according to the National Weather Service. There were no reports of damage.

Going south
As the water moved through Moody County, the river level in Dell Rapids broke the record set in 1969 at 16.51 feet Friday morning, with expectations it would rise even more, said Peter Rogers, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. In 1969, the river hit 16.47 inches. Last spring, it peaked at 15.98 inches.


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