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Community works together as unprecedented rainfall strikes Southeast South Dakota

Flood warnings began popping up late Thursday night and continued into the weekend as 8+ inches of rain fell in the Tea area in a span of three days. 

On Friday, June 21 many residents woke up to water surrounding their property with some having water breach their homes and basements. The National Weather Service put many areas in a flood warning Friday, ranging from Chamberlain in the west to Lincoln and Minnehaha counties in the east. A broader flood watch extended through most of the eastern half of the state through Saturday morning, June 22. 

Throughout the weekend, several law enforcement agencies warned of water-covered roads. On Friday afternoon, the Department of Public of Safety placed a no travel advisory for southeast South Dakota. That included a stretch of I-29 near the Canton exit that authorities said was temporarily blocked off. 

Also on late Thursday night and into the weekend, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office announced that many roads in the county were underwater and unpassable. Deputies and local fire departments from Tea, Lennox, Worthing, Chancellor, Canton, and Harrisburg all responded to numerous calls to assist with rescues in the early morning hours on Friday. The Lincoln County Highway Department and local city police and street departments were busy throughout the weekend placing barricades and checking road conditions and reminding motorist to not drive through water on the roadway or drive around barricades. No travel was advised throughout the County. 

On Friday, the South Dakota Department of Transportation closed Interstate 29 southbound from Exit 64 to Exit 59 due to flooding. Northbound traffic on Exit 64 was down to one lane during Friday morning due to water across the Interstate. A no travel advisory was put in place on all state highway sections in southeast South Dakota on Friday afternoon due to the heavy rain in the area. 

“The combination of sustained heavy rainfall and existing saturated ground conditions is causing widespread flooding, making travel difficult to impossible in the southeastern portion of the state. A majority of state and local routes are currently impassable due to standing or flowing water across the roadways,” a press release from the SD DOT said.

Lincoln County fields continued to flood, roads continued to closed to due water running across, and in town, the streets look more like creeks in some area. 

Throughout the weekend, the Tea Police Department warned drivers to avoid Gateway Blvd and Bakker Landing area, Sundowner Avenue near Gateway Blvd, Main Avenue and Jame Avenue and the north industrial area due to water across the roadways. Brian Street near James and Main Avenue also had water across as did Heritage Parkway between Brian and Ryan. The Tea Volunteer Fire Department also reminded drivers to not take risks when deciding whether or not to go through the water. They also pointed out the bike path around the City Park was covered in water and asked that children stay clear of the area. They also warned that pond water or street water was not safe for kids to play in. 

Homeowners did their best to protect their property. In some cases, sandbags were at work to help keep the water away. Volunteers headed down near Venture Elementary in Tea to help fill sandbags to protect the community from flooding. Anyone in need was able to pick up the sandbags and volunteers helped fill neighbor’s trucks. 

Sandbags surrounded part of the Lincoln County Courthouse in an effort to keep the water at bay. 

Tea Ace Hardware stocked their shelves with sump pumps, hoses, pipe, fans, shop vacs, water clamps, and all the necessities residents may be in need up. Bounce Around Inflatables rented out their blowers to help people dry out their flooded basements. 

While National Weather Service in Sioux Falls is still collecting data on how much water fell in the Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota areas, the estimated 3-day total for the Tea Area ranged from 8-10 inches.  


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