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Homeowners Live With Flooding At Lake Thompson

May 25, 2012, 10:15 PM by Hailey Higgins

Homeowners Live With Flooding At Lake Thompson
LAKE THOMPSON, SD -

Lake Thompson in Kingsbury County, currently stands several feet above flood stage, after more than a year after the flooding first began. 

Since last April, the lake has only dropped four feet, meaning it's still four feet above flood stage and after more than a year of severe and constant flooding, people who live there aren't letting down their guard.

"The destruction is still going on every time the wind comes up. We are still right where we started from except the water is a little bit shallower," Lake Thompson resident Kathy Heither said.

Heither is one of a handful of full time residents living on a thin stretch of land between Lake Thompson and Lake Henry. The threat of more destruction isn't stopping her from taking back what the floodwaters took away.

"We've basically reclaimed some of the sand and then put gravel on it because our building back here, the water was underneath the building. So it completely cut in five feet down and there was this great big hole and what we had sitting in the corner of this building washed out into the lake," Heither said.

High waves ate away shoreline on nearly every property at Lake Thompson. For most of 2011, people used four-wheelers to get to their property.

Several feet of water stood over the existing roads and in some places, the road was just a couple feet wide. As the water slowly receded, it allowed for heavier traffic and most recently, a dirt road.

"We've had this luxury for a month and it's been wonderful. We were actually driving through the sand before that and it was a four wheel drive only. If anyone tried to come through here with a car, they'd get stuck," Heither said.

Property owners are hesitant to build a more permanent road through the north shore area, fearing a significant rainfall could easily put them back in the same boat.

Also in disrepair is Two Lakes Road maintained by the local township. Only one vehicle fits on the single lane road at a time, with a dramatic drop off on either side. Many residents say it's terrifying to drive on and are fighting to get it fixed.

The constant fear of flood water and rainfall has forced many homeowners to raise their driveways two to three feet so they have access to their homes.

Heither says the lake flooding is caused by insufficient drainage on the south end of the lake. While she doesn't know when the exit channel will be fixed, she says most of her neighbors are trying to move on and rebuild while under the constant threat of even more water.

"I don't think our lives will ever be what they were before because our land is not the same as what it was before. And it is going to take years to ever get that back," Heither said.

Heither says Kingsbury County Commissioners are working with an attorney to file a law suit against the state and neighboring Miner County to properly fix the drainage problem at Lake Thompson.

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