Monday, August 29, 2011

Flood Damage in Pierre, SD - summer of 2011

Our daughter lives in Pierre, SD and we were happy to go pay her a visit. Pierre has had a very trying summer (as have other areas downstream on the Missouri River) due to the unprecedented releases of water from Oahe Dam. Water levels on the normally tame river below the dam (which was built, ironically for flood control and power generation), rose many feet and as a result, homes and businesses in Pierre that were never thought to be flood prone were submerged.

There was very little warning of this calamity, only a few days, but the entire city worked together to build sandbag dykes along the river and around homes. Some of the big bags you see above weigh over 2,000 pounds!

Imagine the effort that it took to build these sand walls -- quickly! Water rose close to the top of these at the highest level, but unfortunately, these levels lasted several weeks. As a result, pumps had to be used to try and keep water from seeping behind the bags (you can see the gutter downspouts routed outside the dyke).

Most of these lovely homes are not yet re-occupied and I am afraid the damage will be severe. While you cannot see it in this shot, the road is totally destroyed as a result of being underwater for weeks.

Roads not flooded suffered serious damage due to sinkholes caused by water running underground. This one is about 6 feet deep and could swallow my car easily.

Pierre offered a number of beautiful parks on the river's edge. These structures in the middle of the water are part of a road and walkway next to the river. The structures are the roofs of gazebos that are about 8' tall on the sides with the floor (now under water) usually a couple feet above the water. That would make the current water about 8 to 10' above normal -- and if has already receded at least that much.

This road near downtown Pierre is protected by a barrier. There are miles of these dykes that were built in only a few days, which is amazing. Now, the clean up will begin.

One of the big problems that arose after the dykes were built were the storm drains that channeled rain water from the streets into the river. Naturally, when the river flooded, water backed up from the drains into the road! As a result, divers had to plug the river side of the pipes and pumps, such as this one, were installed to get rid of the seepage or any rainfall. What an effort!

This is the Ramkota Inn, a lovely conference hotel that Rick has been at many times. Fortunately, these sandbags saved the structure.

There has been little national coverage of this disaster, but it is really encouraging to see how South Dakota folks banded together to battle this flood. I am sure that in the near future this damage will be fully repaired and I look forward to visiting again to see the progress.


Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Terrible! I guess the hurricane took all the attention. We caught the tail end here in Maine, but the area we just left in Vermont has suffered the worst natural disaster ever in the state.

This has been a rough weather year so far!

squawmama said...

How devastating... Very sad!