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Fort Pierre Family Moving Out

May 26, 2011, 9:39 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Fort Pierre Family Moving Out
FORT PIERRE, SD - It's been a tense and exhausting 24 hours in Pierre and Fort Pierre as homeowners scramble to protect their homes from the rising Missouri River. 

The Army Corps of Engineers is releasing more water from the Oahe dam, and by Saturday the increasing water flow will be at 85,000 cubic feet per second. More water will be released the following weekend putting 350 homes at risk with the water expected to rise about five feet.

The National Weather Service says the reason for the high water is from heavy rainfall in Eastern Montana that is making it's way to the Missouri River.

The basin has received more than a year's worth of rain in the last 30 days. That water is coupled with an above average snowpack that is melting late in the season.

It has volunteers piling up sandbags as quickly as homeowners can get them to their houses. And many are also hauling out belongings before the water hits. 

The Sanchez family just moved into their home along the Missouri River near Fort Pierre, now they are moving as fast as they can to get out. 

"We're moving out and raising stuff to higher ground," Tiffany Sanchez said.

Outside, a sandbag fortress is going up to try and keep the rising river out of their home. The Army Corps of Engineers plans to be releasing up to 110,000 cubic feet of water per second out of the Oahe dam by early June. Sanchez says that will sink their property. 

"For us that means water clear through our house, across the road, into the farmland across the street," Sanchez said.

It's a frustrating flood because when they built their new home more than a mile south of the Oahe Dam, they thought they had done everything to protect their property.

"We built it almost a foot higher than what the 100 year worst case flooding scenario was going to be; and we're getting flooded," Sanchez said.

Even more frustrating is they were told they didn't need flood insurance because they weren't in a flood zone. And now the Army Corps is releasing water that is predicted to consume their home.

"I just wish they would manage it better. I don't know how to say that. If you know it's going to be bad why let me build a house ten months ago and say, 'oh you're fine and by the way you don't even need flood insurance.' I would have had flood insurance if I really thought there was a risk," Sanchez said.

And with the water expected to be high until the middle of July the Sanchez's are trying to do their best to make sure the damage is minimal. 

"But the hard question is do you raise it up and put it in the upstairs knowing you're going to have mold and water for six to eight weeks, or do you just move everything out?" Sanchez said.

With another release of water scheduled for Saturday the governor's office says property owners along the river in Pierre and Fort Pierre should evacuate by this weekend. They may not be able to return home until the middle of the summer.

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