FORT PIERRE, SD -
The levees in Pierre and Fort Pierre are holding back the rising Missouri River.
Tuesday morning the Army Corps of Engineers will make it's final increase in the amount of water coming out of the Oahe Dam. At that point water will be rushing out of the flood tunnels at 150 thousand cubic feet per second.
But travel outside city limits where there are no levees, and it's a different story. More than a dozen homes have already lost the fight with the Missouri River.
Homeowners on Frontier Road north of Fort Pierre have been battling the water for nearly two weeks now. The homes are just a few miles south of the Oahe Dam and are bearing the brunt of the increased release of water on the Missouri River.
"All three of these homes have breached," homeowner Gon Sanchez said as he drove around his flooded neighborhood in a boat.
Sandbag walls haven't been enough to protect some of the homes on Frontier Road, and homeowners are frustrated they didn't have enough warning to protect their property.
"I think most of us around here are pretty happy to do our own work and not rely on anyone else. The problem is, we didn't have enough time. Don't tell me they knew this dam was going to flood in the last week and a half," Sanchez said.
Emergency levees, such as the ones in Pierre and Fort Pierre, weren't built around the homes. The Corps of Engineers told KELOLAND News in an e-mail Monday that it only assists in building levees to protect critical public infrastructure and in the process of building those levees, they end up protecting homes and businesses, but that wasn't the case for the private development on Frontier Road.
While some homes have been protected against the rising river others haven't made it. Of the 25 homes on the street only ten are still fighting the flood. Sanchez is one of the homeowners who is still bailing water. The sandbag wall around his new home is nearly eight feet tall.
"I'm hoping we're ahead of it. The real question is will this hold out? This isn't a two week flood like most places. This is going to sit here for two plus months and nobody knows how a sand berm is going to handle for two plus months," Sanchez said.
Just upstream from Sanchez's house is a home that didn't have a high enough wall, and there's water inside. The steps to the crawlspace have even floated up to the first level.
"If we had two more weeks to do it most of us could have probably done it better, and right now you've got 25 homes and about half of them are under, and most of these people tried," Sanchez said.
But homeowners will continue to watch the houses that have survived the flood so far, and hope the barricades they built themselves don't breach in the weeks to come.
Sanchez has about three inches of water in his crawlspace that he's been able to pump out, but the power to the development was turned off a week ago. He hopes someone can get electricity to the homes soon because so far he's had to continuously haul gas to his home by boat just to keep the pumps running.
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