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September 24, 2010 09:29 PM

Flooded Brookings Homes May Be Destroyed

Brookings, SD

Brookings city officials are waiting for the water to go down before they can assess the damage that's been done to dozens of homes.
It's so bad that in some cases inspectors could wind up condemning some of the houses.

Water still sat at the doorstep of many of mobile homes in Brookings Friday, but it was an improvement over the water that began rushing into the homes Thursday.

"There's people been here 35 years and never seen this," Brookings Fire Chief Darrell Hartmann said. 

Hartmann was out looking at the water and the damage Friday. He knows what the homeowners are dealing with because he also has water in his own home.

"I do have empathy for everyone here. It's just one of those things we'll all get through it and we're here to help people," Hartmann said.

There's still plenty of water surrounding the homes, but the water is starting to go down. Now, the major concern is what's in the water and what's being left behind.

"There are sharp objects floating in the water, there's been debris that's come down river from upstream, debris that has been coming out of the various mobile home units," Brookings City Manager Jeff Weldon said.

City officials say the water is also contaminated. So even when it does go down, they'll be cautious about letting people back into their homes.

"We want to get people in as soon as possible, but at the same time, we still have some health risks we have to look at with the contaminated water," Hartmann said.

Brookings city inspectors will be going around during the next few weeks to see whether the flooded-out structures are still safe. It's possible some of the homes will never be lived in again.

"And then a determination will be made about the extent of the damage.  Whether condemnation is in fact the case for some of them or if some of them can be repaired. A lot of that will be up to the homeowners themselves," Weldon said.

Homeowners who will still have a disaster to deal with even after the water goes away.

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