RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — 50 years ago this evening, a devastating flood ravaged Rapid City, taking hundreds of lives and destroying homes and businesses.
Shirley Eben was 14 when the floodwaters started to rise in Rapid City.
“We could hear a lot of screaming and things like that which was just hard to understand when you didn’t exactly know what was going on,” Eben said.
Now, 50 years later, she, her husband and many others are walking in memory of the people who lost their lives during the deadly 1972 floods.
“It’s good that we never forget what happened because it did play quite a role in shaping those of us that were here during the flood and also transforming the appearance of the City of Rapid City,” Jeff Bigler, Dir. of Parks and Recreation, said.
50 years ago, the area you see behind me was all wreckage of homes and buildings due to the 1972 flood here in Rapid City.
“This was just a site of devastation. Hundreds and hundreds of homes totally destroyed, many, many deaths had occurred right where I am standing,” Former Mayor Don Barnett said.
“It wasn’t until the next day when the rain had stopped and the water had gone down, we drove around and looked at things and it was just shocking, embedded in my mind now forever of what it looked like with cars stacked up really high and houses moved off their foundations, things that were just so different then what they were the day before,” Eben said.
As people look back on the tragedy, the community is also thankful for the changes following the flood, including the beautiful park system created along the creek so that this type of disaster could never happen again.
Today’s Memorial Walk was the start of many events that will be going on for the rest of the week.