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James River Down Significantly Since 2011

July 16, 2012, 4:59 PM by David Brown

James River Down Significantly Since 2011
MITCHELL, SD -

The James River is known for its flooding.  Just a year ago, it was overflowing its banks in the Mitchell area, but that's no longer the case. 

One week ago, it was at 11.1 feet. Now, it's at 10.5 feet. While that may not sound like much of a drop that's more than ten feet lower than at this time last year.

"You could walk across the creek and not get your tennis shoes all the way wet in spots," Mitchell resident Greg Patton said.

From overflowing to underwhelming, the James River resembles a puddle more than an actual stream of water.

"It's quite a difference," Patton said. "Last year, my ground was underwater by four feet. This year, you can't keep water on the grass."

Patton could only traverse his property by boat for much of last year. And now, hoses and sprinklers line his yard.

"We never had any problem this year," Patton said. "We didn't even run a sump pump, so it was pretty good."

Around this time last year, the James River was up over the road. But now it's barely scratching the surface.

"We talked about this last year," Davison County emergency manager Jim Montgomery said. "We thought things were cyclical and this year could start to be a warm one. And I guess we guessed right."

Montgomery says the concern has now shifted to fire danger instead of flood danger. It may be a different kind of problem, but the focus is now away from the river that bears his name.

"You don't like getting those 2 a.m. phone calls about the water's up and people need assistance and things like that," Montgomery said. "I don't miss that at all."

"I don't miss the flood yet, but maybe I will at some point in time," Patton said.

Montgomery believes the dry weather will continue well into next year based on current conditions. But he says that should give homeowners even more time to cleanup what they lost last year.

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