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Southeast South Dakota faces flooding amid heavy rainfall

An aerial view of a flooded road west of Mitchell on June 21, 2024.
Davison County Sheriff's Office
An aerial view of a flooded road west of Mitchell on June 21, 2024.

Officials are warning about flooding across many areas in southeast South Dakota amid a days-long deluge.

The National Weather Service said many areas are in a flood warning Friday, ranging from Chamberlain in the west to Lincoln and Minnehaha counties in the east. A broader flood watch extends through most of the eastern half of the state through Saturday morning.

Several law enforcement agencies are warning of water-covered roads. On Friday afternoon, the Department of Public of Safety placed a no travel advisory for southeast South Dakota. That included a stretch of I-29 near the Canton exit that authorities said was temporarily blocked off.

"The combination of sustained heavy rainfall and existing saturated ground conditions is causing widespread flooding, making travel difficult to impossible in the southeastern portion of the state," a press release said.

The Department of Transportation's road conditions map shows many surface water hazards across the region resulting in several road closures.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said many rural roadways are impassable.

National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Heitkamp advised drivers against driving through flooded roads, saying it's not worth the risk.

“If you come across a flooded roadway, take an alternate route, especially in flooded gravel or secondary road. You have no idea if the road’s still there, so make sure you avoid driving through those areas," Heitkamp said. "Also, waterproof your home as much as you possibly can. If you have a sump pump, make sure that sump pump is working, making sure the hose is in an area where it can drain easily and making sure that it’s well away from your foundation. Also, your downspouts, making sure those are free and clear of debris.”

The Mitchell Fire Department reported several streets flooded overnight and advised residents to avoid non-essential travel. A sandbag station was set up Friday morning at City Street Shop, and the Mitchell Salvation Army is distributing emergency flood clean-up kits.

Mitchell City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein said rescue crews spent most of Thursday night into Friday morning in rescue operations for people stranded in homes or vehicles. She said local leaders are continuing to monitor conditions.

“We’re also in the process of opening an emergency shelter with Red Cross in conjunction with the Davison County Emergency Operations office that’s going to be to temporarily house displaced residents from the floodwater," Ellwein said.

Lennox City Manager Nathan Vander Plaats said the community is facing an "emergency flood situation," with many streets underwater. He also asked residents to limit water use to ease pressure on the city's sewer system.

“Our biggest concern is our wastewater plant lift stations - keeping those pumped down and keeping sewers from backing up in houses as much as possible," Vander Plaats said. "A lot of the night was spent over at the waste water plant lift stations helping out wherever we can, but right now I’m on my down to Sioux City to grab some more pumps.”

In Canton, the volunteer fire department is assisting with the dispersal of sandbags. City officials are reporting flooding at some homes and businesses. Police are advising residents many city streets are underwater.

In the Sioux Falls area, flash flooding has resulted in several water-logged streets. Emergency responders have also performed several water rescues, include one near Huset's Speedway in Brandon. Crews were able to get everyone involved in that incident out safely.

Several city parks and sections of the recreation are trail due to flooding. The city's outdoor campus is also closed.

Gov. Kristi Noem posted on X that state officials are monitoring the water levels on rivers in the area.

A wide swath of the region has seen between one and four inches of rain, according to the NWS Sioux Falls office. On Thursday alone, Mitchell received 4.8 inches, Sioux Falls received 3.5 inches and Huron got 2.56 inches - all records for June 20. Canton saw the highest local total - 7.75 inches.

Forecasters say more rain is on the way. Heitkamp said said another round of storms - some of which may be severe - will develop Friday evening. He expects rainfall to dissipate by noon Saturday, followed by a stretch of drier weather.

Web resources to stay weather-aware

National Weather Service's website

NWS Sioux Falls X (formerly Twitter) feed

NWS Aberdeen X feed

NWS Rapid City X feed

South Dakota Department of Transportation road conditions map

Josh Chilson is the news director at South Dakota Public Broadcasting. A Florence, S.D. native, Josh graduated with a journalism degree from South Dakota State University. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and videographer, and most recently as managing editor for Dakota News Now. Josh is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.
Krystal is the local host of "All Things Considered."