Steve Stenson was two days shy of age 18 and a recent high school graduate when the 1972 flood changed his life.
Stenson and his family lived near what’s now Meadowbrook Golf Course and were one of the few homes that were left standing in that area. In fact, they still live there today.
“All of the drama and all of the stories you hear, it’s just so unreal,” Stenson said.
Stenson, his parents and his sister, who was living next door at the time, all survived the flood and 40 years later, the memories of that event are still vivid in their minds.
“I saw a four-day-car get washed away and so many things just floating by,” Stenson said.
And his neighbor two houses down had to go the backdoor of her house because there was so much debris.
“Twelve people died in front of our house,” he said.
Seeing so much devastation, Stenson said his first instinct after the flood waters receded was to just clean up. He spent the summer before heading to college helping the city clean up after the flood.
“The next summer I worked for NEMO building bridges in area because a lot of them were destroyed,” Stenson said.
Stenson still lives in the area and works as a wellness center developer. He says on his nightly walks he’ll think back to the events of the flood.
“I know that all of this beauty came at a cost,” Stenson said. “I think about all of the debris from those homes.”
And every now and then, heavy rains give Stenson an uneasy feeling.
“Last year I drove up to Pactola in the middle of the night because there was water covering my basement window and I wanted to make sure Pactola wasn’t rising too high,” Stenson said.
Stenson and his parents are singing with the Dakota Memorial Choir at the remembrance services this weekend.