PIERRE, S.D. — Spring blizzards and record rainfall near the Missouri River basin, along with the threat of heavy rainfall, have the potential to cause severe flooding in an already-soaked South Dakota.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this week reduced the flow of water through the Garrison Dam in North Dakota by 5,000 cubic feet per second to help reduce downstream effects along the Missouri.
“While Corps officials have told us that they are confident in their ability to manage the Missouri River system, we remain vigilant and proactive in ensuring the state’s citizens have the most updated information regarding levels and are prepared should the situation change,” Gov. Kristi Noem said in a statement Thursday, May 30.
Noem said that her office has received requests for flood assistance from Pierre, Fort Pierre, Vermillion, Oacoma, Dakota Dunes and Yankton.
“I support the cities in their requests, and I urge the Corps to immediately begin that review process. Our communities need to know they are ready to respond if flooding does occur,” Noem said.
Last week, the Bad River that flows southwest out of the Missouri at Fort Pierre was flooding out of its banks, the Pierre Capitol Journal reported.
Meanwhile along the Missouri, Gavins Point downstream in Yankton increased flows by 10,000 cfs already this week, the Minot Daily News reported. The Corps will increase it another 5,000 cfs to 75,000 cfs on Saturday.
"Runoff into the upper Missouri River above Sioux City has remained high, and unfortunately, the rain continues to fall in the places we don't need it," said John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division.
Pierre has already received 6.59 inches of rain in May, more than 3.6 inches above its monthly average for the month.
“Many South Dakotans have vivid memories of the 2011 flood," Noem said. "We will not sit and wait for possible flooding to happen. We will be proactive. We will prepare for the worst and hope for the best. As I have told Corps officials this spring, the protection of people and property remains my number one priority. We continue to stay in contact with the Corps and will hold them accountable for any unscheduled increases in the river’s water levels.”