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Missouri River’s Rise Has South Dakota Communities Sandbagging for Hope

USDA South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks took a tour of the flood control preparations underway in Pierre and Ft. Pierre, last Thursday.  A number of homes are threatened, including those financed by government agencies, including USDA.

Residents are preparing for the worst as the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers  increase water flow from the Oahe Dam from 85,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) to 150,000 CFS.   Flooding is imminent in the communities because of rising water levels on the Missouri River.

Sandbags protect a USDA Rural Development-financed home in Pierre.

Sandbags protect a USDA Rural Development-financed home in Pierre.

Record flows into the river from Montana through South Dakota are forcing the Corps of Engineers to increase releases from the main stem dams. Those increased releases will raise water levels to create the worst flood in the area’s history.   Other communities will be impacted as the water flows down river.

On the tour, the group visited with one home owner and current USDA Rural Development Housing Loan recipient who purchased her home just one year earlier.  Sandbagging was completed to the projected flood level of 1,434 ft. elevation as shown, but the homeowner has heeded the warnings and evacuated for the family’s safety.

Completion of levees is on schedule and most of the low-lying areas in Pierre and Ft. Pierre are encased in more than 2 million sandbags.  State Director Meeks commented, “The community has really pulled together and our hopes and prayers are with everyone as the water levels increase.  Our own staff has spent many hours volunteering their time to help family and neighbors; their work is commended.”

To find out more about USDA disaster relief programs click here.

South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks (right) and  USDA Area Specialist Paula Corcoran looking at the rising water levels.

South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks (right) and USDA Area Specialist Paula Corcoran looking at the rising water levels.


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