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Through mud and floodwaters, North Sioux City residents find light

Flood damage destroys part of a street in North Sioux City
Julie Burhoop
Flood damage destroys part of a street in North Sioux City

A week after historic flooding washed out much of southeastern South Dakota, families are now beginning to pick up the pieces.

Residents say they’re holding onto hope as life starts back up again.

Families across the area are still displaced, but the residents of North Sioux City say recovery is a long road with steps to take every single day.

Kathy Roberts has lived in the community since 1997, and her home was a total loss. While she and her cats are safe, it’s still a long path forward.

“It has been a horrible situation, as far as communication and information getting out, it has been extremely frustrating," Roberts said. "I’m sorry, even my words don’t come out right right now. It’s completely overwhelming beyond anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

However, Roberts said through the mud and fallen houses, there is hope.

“We’ll be okay," Roberts said. "We will get through this, because of the community we have. I mean, we take care of each other. At one point I was like 'I just need fingernail clippers.' Something so simple as just needing fingernail clippers – and someone put them in my hand, here you go.”

For now though, it’s a long road to recovery. Julie Burhoop’s home wasn’t lost, but she said the area is undeniably changed.

“I’d be out on the lake with the girls, pulling them behind on the boat – and we don’t have that," Burhoop said. "I mean, it sounds so petty, but that was our life and it’s gone. Now instead of living on the lake, I live on a lagoon full of sewage, houses, trees, we don’t know what’s under the water, the water is still probably seven feet higher than what it’s supposed to be, there’s silt, and there’s acres and acres of dirt.”

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Additionally, a rental property owned by Burhoop was a total loss in the flood. An architect estimated it represents a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars to her family.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture