Thune tours flooded homes, says ‘There’s got to be a reckoning’FORT PIERRE — Merle Scheiber spent more than $75,000 and three years remodeling his home on North Frontier Road in Fort Pierre.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
FORT PIERRE — Merle Scheiber spent more than $75,000 and three years remodeling his home on North Frontier Road in Fort Pierre.
“Everything was new except for the water heater,” Scheiber said.
With water nearly to his waist, Scheiber stood Saturday and looked as floorboards floated in his kitchen, an all-too-common sight for houses along the road that’s covered in flood water.
Like most homeowners in the area, Scheiber never has had flood insurance.
He said the Army Corps of Engineers “never really said anything other than we wouldn’t need flood insurance,” Scheiber said.
Scheiber said representatives from the corps said “it will never happen.”
The situation doesn’t sit well with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who spent part of Saturday morning touring the flooded area north of the Missouri River bridge.
Aboard boats that rode several feet above the actual road, Thune and others saw house after house containing flood water. The water lapped at the bottoms of mailboxes, obscured signs and carried debris ranging from discarded beverage containers to rolls of carpet.
At 3604 N. Frontier Road, a walleye-shaped mailbox stood barely above the water level.
Wearing rubber and camouflage waders with his hands behind his back, Thune ended his visit to the flooded area with a declaration that someone will answer for the flooding problems.
“These are homes which were not insured, in most cases, simply because they were told they didn’t need flood insurance,” Thune said. “They weren’t in the flood plain and they had assurances from the corps that this sort of thing would never happen to them, so there’s got to be some recourse.
“There’s got to be a reckoning,” Thune added. “We’ll do everything we can to make sure that happens.” Thune later stopped in Oacoma to view flooding in the area.
In Fort Pierre, Thune told a group of homeowners and reporters that he wasn’t sure what assistance would be available for owners of the flooded homes, some of which had water levels so high that water was visible through living room windows.
Glen Dozark’s home at 3508 N. Frontier Road has a completely submerged basement and a living room with two feet of standing water.
Some homes in the area have piles of sandbags that continue to protect them from waters, but it appears that most having some level of standing water inside.
John Meligan grew up on 3714 N. Frontier Road. The house owned by his parents Ray and Iris is partially underwater, but Meligan has been making frequent trips to the neighborhood to not only remove the last of items from his childhood home but help other neighbors who Meligan says have received little assistance from other sources.
“It’s neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends,” Meligan said. “Just because our fight is over doesn’t mean everybody’s fight is over.”
It’s a frustrating situation, Meligan said. With a smile, he told how he once placed plastic picnic tables on the family’s doghouse to prevent water damage to the tables.
Now that the water has
completely overtaken the doghouse, he’s got to find a new
place for the picnic tables.
“It’s surreal to see the place you grew up in is now under water,” Meligan said. “We’ll just keep plugging away.”
When it comes to the subject of the corps, Meligan’s frustration becomes evident.
He can’t understand why the corps would discourage people in the neighborhood from obtaining flood insurance nor why more attention wasn’t paid to water levels in the state.
“If a toilet’s plugged and full, you don’t flush it again,” he said with a smile that was half joking and half angry.