Hamlin County roads and fields under water


Now that spring has officially arrived, temperatures are rising, but so are fears.

Especially for those who live in Hamlin County, an area of South Dakota, surrounded by several lakes and rivers.  

Many roads are already underwater due to heavy rain and snowmelt, but emergency management officials fear it could get worse. 

With two lakes nearby, Mother Nature is ruffling a few feathers with Dean Johnson’s farm. Right now, it’s in a sea of trouble. 

“This is not going to be gone this year.  My experience tells me we are going to have this again next year, so we are in it for a long run,” Johnson said. 

His house is okay for now, but some of his outbuildings are underwater. 

“It’s not as bad 2011.  In 2011, I had 22 inches of water in that shed; right now, we are at about 10-12 inches,” Johnson said.  

Dozens of county and township roads are either underwater or heavily damaged by people driving on them. 

“We’re encouraging the traveling public to use extreme caution, especially after daylight hours, in the dark, it’s very hard to see those things,”  Hamlin County Emergency Manager David Schaefer said. 

Schaefer says if they get any more rain, roads leading to the Hamlin County school could be impacted and so could students and staff.  They may be forced to take longer routes to get to class. 

“Their four-mile trip may be 12 miles long, but for the sake of safety, it’s well worth it,” Schaefer said. 

Roads aren’t the only concern.  The lakes are filled with all kinds of debris; fence posts, decking and tree branches, so boaters need to be careful and not make waves. 

“If you do go on the lake, go very, very slow.  Don’t cause a wake; it’s just one more thing those folks don’t need,” Schaefer said. 

They also don’t need any more rain.

“I’m optimistic on that.  Myy wife is not, but I am,” Johnson said. 

Livestock are also being impacted by the moisture. 

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