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Unprecedented rainfall strikes Southeast SD: Torrential downpours cause widespread flooding and road closures in area

Water covered the field and flowed into the property at the corner of 467th Avenue and 278th street just outside of Lennox early Friday morning. By Sunday morning the water had subsided. 

Flood warnings began popping up late Thursday night and continued into the weekend as 10+ inches of rain fell in the Lennox area in a span of three days and over 17 inches fell in the Worthing area. 

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 Sherriff’s office announced that many roads in the county were underwater and unpassable. Deputies and local fire departments from Lennox, Worthing, Tea, 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 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. 

The City of Lennox also warned the public of multiple roadways in and around Lennox that were flooded and in some cases impassable. City crews worked tirelessly to keep the wastewater plant and collection system operating. Through the weekend, the City asked residents to limit water use. On Sunday morning, the City allowed residents to return to normal water usage. Lennox Mayor Danny Fergen was impressed with how the community worked together during the flooding. 

“Last weekend, our community experienced truly unprecedented rainfall. Despite the challenges posed by the storm, we witnessed our community coming together, rallying, and caring for one another. Unfortunately, many residents were affected by water in their basements, some even dealing with sewer water. Our dedicated city workers stepped up, working tirelessly to maintain the functionality of the wastewater plant. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Nate Vander Plaats, Kyle Ramynke, Brian Lathrop, Kevin Cheppenko, Andy Lambert, Drew Sweeter, Talen Eich, Ramsey Williams, Jenn Paetow, Colt Bradley and others who went above and beyond during this challenging time,” said Fergen. “While there will undoubtedly be things we can learn from this situation, I am thankful that it wasn’t worse. Our thoughts and prayers go out to other communities facing devastation and loss of homes. The small-town values of Lennox, rooted in community support, continue to inspire me. Let’s remain committed to helping those in need, especially homeowners who lack the means to repair their homes. Together, we can offer a lending hand when it matters most.” 

The City of Worthing and the Worthing Fire Department also urged residents to not try to drive through moving or standing water over the weekend after the area received unprecedented rain fall, flooding streets and roadways.  

Fire department members along with City officials worked to keep the water away from resident’s home by pumping ditches and responding to emergencies throughout the weekend. 

“Possible Quote from Mayor”

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.

After an estimated 7+ inches in the Lennox area on Friday morning the rain continued on Saturday night, filling rain gages with an additional 3+ inches around Lennox and 6+ outside of Worthing. 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 places. Homeowners did their best to protect their property. In some cases, sandbags were at work to help keep the water away.

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

The rain also caused area events to cancel or postpone as Worthing Days rescheduled their car show to this coming Friday, June 28 but canceled the 5K, parade, kids activities, vendor fair and bingo planned. The massive amount of rain also flooded the Lenkota Golf Course, forcing the Lennox Volunteer Fire Department to postpone their annual golf tournament to Saturday, Aug. 3. 

While National Weather Service in Sioux Falls is still collecting data on how much water fell in the Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota areas but the estimated 3-day total for Lennox is 9.10 inches, for Worthing the estimated is 17.83 inches 


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