RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA-TV) People in and around the Black Hills will never forget June 9th, 1972 when extreme rainfall hit Rapid City causing the deaths of 238 people. The flood was almost 44 years ago, and while there hasn't been a flood as deadly in recent history, we do see our share of flooding and flash flooding.
YORK, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 28: Vehicles are inundated as flood waters begin to recede in the Huntington Road area of York after the River Foss burst its banks, on December 28, 2015 in York, United Kingdom. United Kingdom. Severe flooding has affected large parts of northern England, with homes and businesses in Yorkshire and Lancashire evacuated as rivers burst their banks. More heavy rain is forecast as dozens of severe flood warnings remain in place. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Quinten Feickert has seen his share of flooding. He lives off country road near Rapid City. In an area that seems to attract runoff during heavy rain events.
Feickert says, "Well, it basically it all gathers up off of Haines and come down through this draw and it builds up until it runs over 143rd and Dyess and sometimes Elk Vale if it gets real heavy."
With the rain, Feickert says, he's witnessed some impatient drivers. “They will go through it or they will go around it. Just depends on how deep it is or whatever. I have seen them wash into the ditch because of it before.”
National Weather Service hydrologist Melissa Smith says saving a few minutes isn't worth risking your life, find an alternate route. She says there's no way to know the condition of a roadway ... Especially in rural areas.
Smith says, "Just because someone else's vehicle may have made it through you don't know what is underneath, the road could be washed away."
Smith warns that it doesn't have to rain where you're driving for flash flooding to occur. Smith says, “You could have rain fall above the area. It could be raining in Nemo and then that water would eventually come down to our area. So you have to be very careful even it's not raining at your location.”
So how much water is too much?
It only takes 6 inches of flowing water to knock you off your feet. A foot to float a small car, and a foot and a half to two feet to take out an SUV right off the road ways.
The bottom line… Don't underestimate the power of water. The National Weather Service uses the motto: “Turn around don't drown.” But even those who may know better still take the chance.
Feickert light heartedly says, “We don't talk about that.”
Over the last 10 years 593 people died due to flash flooding in the Unites States alone and about two thirds of those deaths happened in vehicles.