Did the state of South Dakota fail to put in the proper drainage under Highway 11 in the Shindler area?
That question is now in the hands of a judge following a three-day court trial in a lawsuit brought by five homeowners against the state.
The homeowners are suing the state after water from a heavy rainstorm on July 30, 2010 backed up behind state Highway 11 and flooded their homes. The homeowners argue there wasn't proper drainage. The state says no road is flood-proof.
For the last three days Mark Meierhenry, the attorney representing those homeowners, argued that Highway 11 acted like a dam and caused the damage.
"Highway 11 is a long dike. It's a highway but it's a dike across a natural drainage way. So, in a natural state there would have been no flooding," Meierhenry said.
In his closing arguments Meierhenry pointed out that the state has not changed the highway or the drainage in the Shindler area since it was built in 1949. He argues that it doesn't protect homeowners from the record growth in southern Sioux Falls which led to increased runoff during rain storms.
"We don't have any '49 Studebakers. We don't have any '49 Hudsons. Those cars are obsolete and gone. This road is obsolete. They should have fixed it," Meierhenry said.
Gary Thimsen, the attorney for the state of South Dakota, argues that this area has never flooded before and has never flooded since 2010 because there is adequate drainage.
"I'll just say that Highway 11 has been there since 1949 and this is the only time property ever flooded was in a year of record precipitation," Thimsen said.
South Dakota climatologist Dennis Todey testified Thursday before closing arguments that 2010 was the wettest year on record in southeastern South Dakota which created a perfect storm for this flood.
Now, more than three years after that flood the homeowners wait once again - this time for the judge's decision.
"I think this is a difficult case for everybody and I think justice will be served for us. I think this should be over soon for all the families that were involved," Shindler homeowner Tim Doyle said after court.
Judge Pat Riepel will likely issue her decision in this case in a few weeks.
The homeowners are asking the state to pay for the damages caused by the flood.
Trial Day One
Trial Day Two