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Friday, June 03, 2011

Levees, we haz them.

Flood2011 (15)

Are you ready for this Pierre? Today is the big day, as of about two hours ago, water began flowing out of the dam at the higher 100,000 cfs. That will slowly increase over the next few days, leading the Missouri River to rise four feet by Tuesday.  The people in charge expect that the levees will hold, that all of the homes behind the levees will be ok.  Of course, there are homes outside of the levees that will not be ok, but I think the town did everything in it's power to help them too. (Wouldn't it make you cry to have your waterfront view replaced by that wall of dirt? Better than a wall of water, but still, so heartbreaking.)

Flood2011 (8)
The parks are almost all on the wrong side of the levees. See the island out there in the middle? There is a new swimming path on that island! (for the fish to use?)

The town of Pierre has come together in amazing ways. Everyone with hands has turned out to sandbag or to deliver food or to volunteer their truck or trailer to the cause.  People are offering their yards for tents and campers, are offering to keep your pets for you, to let you use their washing machine. Restaurants are donating food and selling food at cost to volunteers. Someone called Mike's store yesterday and bought $100 worth of gloves, and Knechts matched it. Everyone is in on it, young and old. I went sandbagging a few nights ago and worked alongside a couple carloads of high school students, a handful of 6 year olds, and a dozen National Guard soldiers, along with an assortment of folks of my generation and that of my parents.  Sandbagging continues around the clock. The businesses downtown all got together and built a berm all the way around the block   Just a quick look at this Facebook page that is helping coordinate efforts will show you how terrific everyone has been.

I am so proud to be from Pierre, SD. I may be new to town, but I am loving the way everyone pitched in.  Everyone we talk to from out of state talking about how amazing this town, Pierre and Ft Pierre, is. How they've never seen so much generosity and hard work. Today the water is coming.  My optimistic nature tells me that it's enough, that we've done enough and that the water will lap peacefully at the levees instead of the houses. Meanwhile, the people won't stop working. Bags are still being added. Berms are still growing. Downstream in Dakota Dunes people are still packing up and getting ready.

It promises to be a long summer of watching the water, of waiting to see it recede instead of rise.  Watching it instead of playing in it. Eventually though, the water will go down and life will return to normal. We'll all get used to living on the water again and we'll forget the threat it poses. I hope we don't forget the feeling of helping each other, of being there for the friend we don't know yet. I've said for months what a friendly town Pierre is, this experience just proves it.

(First two photos courtesy of SDPB, last two from this Facebook page)

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  1. There is nothing quite like waiting for disaster to strike. I sure hope the efforts of the town have paid off. I mean, even if it saves just a handful of homes...then it will be worth it.

    I can't even compare our flooding of a few months back but when I saw the water level rising for us and we are not even in a flood zone, I panicked and spent half the day pumping it out.

  2. Isn't it wonderful when a community pulls together like that. I'll be praying that the damage is minimal.

  3. Our community went through this as well and people do pull together in an amazing way! Go Pierre!

  4. Your post gave me chills, Lisa. Talk about community building!!

  5. It is so wonderful that everyone is working together instead of waiting for someone else to come to the rescue. 100,000 cfs! (Record flood level on the Salmon River was 130,000 ft3/s, June 17, 1974, and that was terrifying.) I am praying.

    We have now unofficially broken the record for the amount rain fallen so far this year. It is still snowing in the mountains.

  6. You really did move into an amazing community! It often takes a disaster to make everyone realize what a great place they live in.


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