Walking to remember on the 45th anniversary of the 1972 flood

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - 45 years ago the flood of 1972 hit Rapid City, taking the lives of 238 people.

Still people in Rapid City remember that tragic day, commemorating those who lost their lives Sunday morning at the memorial flood walk.

President of friends of Rapid City Parks, Chris Stover, says "this is the sixth annual walk that Friends of Rapid City Parks and sponsored so that we don't forget about what happened in 1972. 238 people lost their lives that night and our mission is to do our best to prevent that from happening again."

One Rapid City women says she was not in the area, but one of her family members was.

Ellen Bishop, whose brother was here for the flood, explains, “There was no way to tell if my little brother who was here was alive or dead. For about three days we did not know that. I was just, what do you expect, I didn't know if he was alive or dead and there was no way to talk with him and there was no way for him to call us either."

But another survivor of the flood didn’t know if she would see another day.

1972 flood survivor, Peggy Dibbern, was choking up as she said, “I just remember praying all night long, cause I thought that we were going to die."

Dibbern and her family went to their neighbors house since their house began to fill with water and their neighbors house had a second story.

Eventually the water rose so high that the Dibbern’s and their neighbors climbed on the roof of the house to wait out the storm.

During the storm they had to yell just to talk to each other but they could hear others in need of help all around.

"We saw a boat at one point and one of the people in the boat, we could hear people screaming" adds Dibbern.

The family was eventually able to get off the roof but they didn't know what happened to others in their area.

Dibbern had friends she never saw again but she wasn't the only one who experienced that feeling.

Stover states, “There probably wasn't a person in this town that wasn't affected whether where it was where they went grocery shopping, or where they bought their car, or if it was their mom, or sister, or father. You know I mean it had to been horrible. I mean there's no one that wasn't affected by it.”

Stover says Rapid City will eventually flood again; it’s just a matter of time.

But he hopes new warning systems and the implement of the flood plain will give people warning of a tragedy like the 1972 flood.