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Judge: State Flooded Shindler Homeowners

June 27, 2014, 9:45 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Judge: State Flooded Shindler Homeowners

It was a flood that destroyed homes and turned the lives of Shindler, South Dakota residents upside down.

On Friday a Sioux Falls judge ruled that the state of South Dakota doesn't have enough drainage in place in the small Lincoln County town and it caused flooding during the summer of 2010.

On July 30, 2010 the rain came down and the water started pooling up around a half dozen homes in Shindler. Several houses were destroyed - some have since been abandoned because the damage was so severe.

"Property owners shouldn't pay the price of the neglect of the government and that's what this case is about - neglect," Mark Meierhenry, the attorney for the Shindler homeowners said Friday.

Mark Long is one of the homeowners who sued the state along with four of his neighbors. They say that the culverts under Highway 11 in Lincoln County aren't big enough to handle a heavy rainstorm. The same scenario played out just last week following a rain storm.

Shindler Residents Frustrated By Flooding 

"Here the judge found that Highway 11 blocks the natural flow; that the state was aware of it when they repaired it in 2010. They were fully aware of the problems and only an eight-year event would flow through and under Highway 11," Meierhenry said.

In her decision Judge Riepel wrote that Highway 11 acts as an 'obstruction' to the natural drainage and that the culverts are of 'insufficient size' for the area.

Read Judge Riepel's Decision

"I would like to thank everyone for all the help and resources over the last four years. I'm ecstatic that a third party took a look at the case and came to a decision I can live with," Long told KELOLAND News Friday.

A separate trial will be held to determine how much money each Shindler homeowner should be paid.

The state could still appeal the decision - but its attorney did not return a phone call for comment Friday.

That stretch of Highway 11 in Shindler hasn't been updated since 1949 and Meierhenry said that's not the South Dakota Department of Transportation's problem it's the legislature's problem.

"The main reason they're not fixing our roads properly and the drainage is that the legislature sees fit to run on issues of no taxes and no nothing and just good enough. That's flooding us," Meierhenry said.

Now the state will likely have to pay up.

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