Dakota Dunes, SD
More than a thousand residents in Dakota Dunes are being allowed to move back into their homes after being evacuated all summer.
But some residents don't think they'll be able to live in their homes for at least a few more weeks. That's because the hardest hit homes near the flooded Missouri River had several feet of water inside and now need some major repairs.
"When the river level got to its high point, we would have had about two feet of water in our main level, but because of the levee and getting what they got accomplished, we only ended up having three-and-a-half feet in our basement," Dakota Dunes homeowner Kam Smith said.
Smith lives in one of the hardest hit areas of Dakota Dunes. The swollen Missouri River sat just a stones throw away from his backdoor all summer. The only thing holding all the water back was a levee built in his backyard.
"This was the difference between yes, saving our house and losing our house really," Smith said.
Even though the levee held back the river, it didn't hold back all the water. Smith still had more than three feet of water in his basement, and he's had to gut the entire thing.
"It really has been pretty devastating back here. I don't like it very well. If I sound pretty upbeat, I'm just thankful to keep coming back to the house," Smith said.
Because of all the work that needs to be done, Smith doesn't expect to move back into his home for good for a few weeks yet. Still he feels fortunate that he didn't end up losing his home to a summer flood that could have done a lot more damage in his community.
"This is very doable. It's fine. We go in there and clean it out, dry out the basement, tear everything out, we're really in pretty good shape, in all honesty. I feel very fortunate," Smith said.
Because looking at the river on the other side of the levee, he knows it could have been a lot worse.
Smith says officials plan to leave the levee in his backyard up until next spring, and then he says officials are talking about building permanent flood protection around Dakota Dunes to fend off a 500-year flood event. Click on the video player below to watch more video from Dakota Dunes.