And the Water Came Tumbling Down

Posted on May 24 2012 - 6:36pm by Holly Robinson

Last year, there was record snowfall in the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Wyoming.  In the spring, prolonged heavy rain pummeled Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.  During the last 2 weeks in May 2011, almost a year’s worth of rain fell in the upper Missouri River basin. This onslaught of water found it’s way into the Missouri River.

Water was released in epic proportions from reservoirs along the river in an effort to make room for the influx of water in the river. At one point, Gavins Point Dam released 16,000 cubic feet per second of water. The water poured from the dam – turbulent, roiling violently, powerfully crashing downstream.

Water flowed over the riverbanks. Large cities, small towns, fields, and homes, were flooded. This week marks the upcoming one-year anniversary of the flood in Pierre and Fort Pierre, South Dakota.

Clint Schimkat owns Oahe Storage in Pierre, South Dakota. Before the flood, Schimkat’s business was doing exceptionally well.  Every single storage unit was rented. He had a list of people waiting to rent a unit.

Then the floodwaters came. His storage facility was an island in the midst of a sea of water. The water rose two feet into his storage buildings.

When the water finally receded, the cleaning ordeal began. He had friends that came from Rapid City to help.  While it has come a long way from a year ago, Schimkat is still feeling the effects of the flood.

The river water is back in its banks. His units are clean. However, only half of them are rented. His business is slowly picking up. Days go by without any calls inquiring about availability of units. Schimkat thinks that it will be quite some time before all of his units are completed rented out. In fact, he feels that it will take one or two more years to get back up to 100% full occupancy.

A couple of years are a rather long time for a 74-year-old man. Schimkat had looked forward to retiring soon. But the flood set him back and it will be quite some time before he is able to retire.

As if dealing with a flood and the onerous task of cleanup afterwards was not enough, Schimkat recently had a knee replacement. He is able to get around but his recovery is a slow process.

Sources Used:

“One Year Later: Storage owner hoping for more customers in 2012.” KSFY News; 23 May 2012.

“One year after the Emergency on the Missouri.” KSFY News; 21 May 2012.

2011 Missouri River Floods. Wikipedia.

2011 Missouri River Historic Flooding.