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Roads closed, covered in water as flooding hits southeastern South Dakota, again

The James River near Mitchell is pictured during September 2019 flooding. (Matt Gade / Republic)
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PIERRE, S.D. — After yet another round of flooding washed out southeastern South Dakota last week, more than a dozen major routes remain closed according to the state's Department of Transportation.

Kristi Sandal, a SDDOT spokesperson, in a Monday, Sept. 16 email said the department could not provide a total number of roads closed due to flooding because "roads were opening and closing consistently," but as of Monday afternoon, 15 portions of major routes remained closed, including parts of U.S. 81.

Portions of the state's major east-to-west route Interstate 90 were closed on Thursday and Friday due to flood waters. I-90 was reopened in full on Saturday, but a portion near Exit 357, east of Mitchell, remains underwater as of Monday afternoon. Workers are flagging drivers through the shallow water.


Sandal said Monday that officials do not know how long it will take before all the water is cleared off the roadway. Since the water is not flowing rapidly, Sandal said the department anticipates minimal long term infrastructure damage. She added the department is "looking at measures to protect the roadway from erosion due to wave action during periods of high winds."

Asked how repairs are prioritized for which roads, Sandal said, "All state routes are important. Prioritization is based on many factors and each location has unique issues which can impact when the location is able to be repaired."

While some repairs can be done quickly by the DOT, others require more time and design beyond the state's own capabilities, and are thus contracted out. She said the DOT is "working diligently to get roads repaired and open to traffic as quickly and as safely possible."

As of Monday afternoon, here are some of the major routes closed in South Dakota. Travelers can see up-to-date road closures and safety information online provided by Safe Travel USA.

  • SD 44, west of Platte
  • SD 44, east of the U.S. 281 junction
  • SD 44 between 14 miles east of SD 37 and 11.5 miles west of US 81
  • SD 1804, south of SD 44
  • US 18, east of Lake Andes
  • US 81, south of SD 46
  • SD 46, west of US 81
  • SD 19, north and south of SD 46
  • SD 48, at the Iowa state line
  • SD 46, at Iowa state line
  • SD 42, 8 miles east of the SD 37 junction
  • SD 38, closed between SD 25 and US 81
  • SD 11, 1.75 miles north of SD 42 East
  • US 81, closed south of US 14 for a construction project
  • US 81, closed 3 miles south of SD 28

GALLERY: Flooding in the Mitchell area

Mearhoff is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. You can reach her at or 651-290-0707.
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