RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — 50 years ago today a devastating flood tore through Rapid City leaving hundreds of people dead. To commemorate the tragedy, people came together to talk about their experiences and the lessons learned.
50 years later, the images are still unbelievable. For those who survived the Jun 9th, 1972 flood, the memories are still with them.
“We saved quite a few people, but we lost a few too. That’s what you never forget… the ones that got away,” Len Kemitz, Former National Guard, said.
Kemitz and Mike Sorenson were members of the National Guard when water rushed through Rapid City.
“We went to New York Street and found water very high and found people in trees, on top of houses, many screaming from help. We finally got a rope across the current and we got nine people across. We were forced to leave as three of us were soaked and we couldn’t work any further,” Mike Sorenson said.
After the flood, approximately 1,200 acres of open space and park systems were added to the City of Rapid City.
By preserving and protecting the floodway that was once filled with homes and businesses, more people will be safe if a flood like in 1972 would ever happen again.
“The intent today is to let the people of Rapid City know that the flood plain is not ignored and that the city of Rapid has regulations and we actively work with developers and the public when they want to do something in the flood plain,” Mary Bosworth, Flood Plain Administrator, said.
After the flood brought so much loss to the community, it’s a lesson that hasn’t been forgotten.