More than a thousand people gathered Wednesday night at Dakota Valley High School to hear how state and local officials are going to protect their homes and businesses from flooding.With the massive flooding of 2011 fresh on their minds, people in Union County, South Dakota, including Dakota Dunes, McCook Lake, and North Sioux City, are worried about floodwaters from the Big Sioux River which is expected to surpass flood stage by the weekend.That meeting drew such interest that traffic was backed up for miles on I-29.
So many people showed up they had to move the meeting into the gymnasium from the auditorium, but it succeeded in its goal of preparing people for the flooding.
To prevent the floodwaters from spilling over into North Sioux City and other parts of southern Union County, workers will be extending the North Sioux City levees farther west across Interstate 29 at Exit 4.Construction of the makeshift levee will allow flow of floodwaters to spill out the south end of McCook Lake. "I think they're doing everything they can and all we can do is follow what they've said and try to take care of ourselves, too," said Dakota Dunes Resident, Mark Scott.
Work to secure the levee around area started early on Wednesday. The river is expected to rise by a foot and a half to a record high. The flooding isn't expected to last more than 3-to-5 days, but is expected to be very intense. State officials are anticipating floodwaters to reach Interstate 29, and will be closing the interstate from Exit 4 by McCook Lake to Exit 26 near Vermillon at approximately noon tomorrow.Flooding is expected to begin near Jefferson and make its way south. "I was here in 2011, which I thought was amazing, whoever put this together I don't know, but they did a great job," said Dakota Dunes Resident, Lowell Redler. At noon tomorrow the BNSF Railway tracks and county highway 105 will close temporarily while workers attempt to close the gap in the levee.I-29 North will not close until flooding occurs.This map from the National Weather Service shows how quickly river levels will rise on the Big Sioux over the next couple days, with a crest of nearly 110 feet by Friday afternoon. City officials had a news conference at the Security Institute at Western Iowa Tech Community College to let the public know what steps they're taking to keep the river at bay and what neighborhoods will be affected by any flooding. "The incidents that we will have if they do happen will be limited to the Riverside area, we're confident. Perry Creek has already receded and the Floyd River is well within its banks," said Sioux City, City Manager, Bob Padmore. Material to make sand bags will be available at Goldie Park in the Riverside area as long as people want them.