Now is the time to check if you live in a flood plain, because area leaders are urging you to prepare for the worst. They’re looking at record levels of water from the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek that could last close to a week.
On Tuesday, Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County emergency managers outlined plans to keep areas as safe as possible. They also have a warning, and if you don’t follow it, you could find yourself facing police officers and a costly ticket.
“This has the potential to reach some of those high flows that we’ve seen in 1969 that actually hit 41,000 CFS,” Mark Cotter, director of Sioux Falls Public Works, said.
All of that water is coming from a few places. The Big Sioux River’s watershed starts in Watertown and will merge with Skunk Creek’s flows that start in Chester. Cotter says those plus last weekend’s flooding and a lot of snow to melt will all add up to 38,000 CFS. To break that down that totals about 285,000 gallons of water flowing through Sioux Falls per second.
“When these high flows start to come through, we’ll begin to send a majority of the water down the diversion channel,” Cotter said.
That’s not all.
“We’re identifying the steps that we’ll take for sandbagging, not only to sandbag the public, utility infrastructure, but also to provide guidance and support for the public,” Cotter said.
In the meantime, mind the barricades.
“We have officially closed Falls Park,” Don Kearney said.
Due to safety, law enforcement officers are monitoring closed areas, including some parks. If they catch you crossing the barricades to get in a closed park, you could get two tickets totaling nearly $220.
“I can’t emphasize enough how we need your cooperation to stay out of those areas so the city teams can really focus on the flood fight that’s ahead of us,” Kearney said.
Minnehaha County Emergency Manager Jason Gearman says if you live in flood plains in the county, start preparing to move livestock, equipment, and other valuables. That’s not all.
“Stay off county roads. They county roads are in horrible shape right now with the thaw and the water and townships do not want you on their roads and wrecking them,” Gearman said.
The Sioux Falls Emergency Manager is also warning people on the flood plains to consider moving personal items like important paperwork, valuables, and prescriptions to a safe storage space. You can find out if you live in a flood plain on the FEMA website. City leaders still need volunteers to assist in this flood fight. To learn how you can help, call the 211 Helpline.