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WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 11, 2013, 12:49 PM

Heavy rain follows blizzard in western Dakotas

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Officials urged residents of a Black Hills city to move to higher ground Friday as western South Dakota and southwestern North Dakota braced for heavy rain and strong winds, just a week after an early fall blizzard paralyzed the region.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Officials urged residents of a Black Hills city to move to higher ground Friday as western South Dakota and southwestern North Dakota braced for heavy rain and strong winds, just a week after an early fall blizzard paralyzed the region.

Creek levels in and around Keystone, just a few miles from Mount Rushmore National Monument, rose Friday morning after 2 inches of rain fell overnight, adding to runoff from melting snow. Another inch of rain was expected by midday.

Alexa White of the Pennington County Emergency Operations Center said no mandatory evacuation order had been issued in Keystone but that residents were warned of the danger, including already flooded roads. The Red Cross set up an emergency shelter in nearby Hermosa.

The National Weather Service posted wind warnings and advisories, predicting gusts of up to 65 mph, and urged residents to beware of flash flooding.

By late morning the rain was slowing and the floodwaters had started to recede. White said she didn't know how many people had left the city of about 900 people.

White said some roads in Rapid City were also flooded, and that city officials closed paths in the park that runs alongside Rapid Creek.

Crews in both states are still working to restore power to thousands of customers still in the dark after last weekend's storm that dumped up to 1 ½ feet of snow in southwestern North Dakota and more than 4 feet in parts of South Dakota's Black Hills. Some 30,000 customers were initially without power.

Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative spokeswoman Cindy Ternes told The Bismarck Tribune that crews could only access some areas on Thursday because snow made roads impassable.

"We're still plugging away," she said.

A Slope Electric Cooperative statement said some customers would remain without power "well into next week."

Crews also have been working to remove damaged or weakened tree limbs that could be blown down in the latest storm.

"If we lost a child who was playing ... if we lose a homeowner who's trying to help their neighbor or help their own property and a branch falls out of a tree due to a wind gust and kills a citizen, to lose somebody now would just be beyond tragic," Pennington County Emergency Manager Dustin Willett told KOTA radio.

One death was reported in last weekend's storm, a man in the Lead-Deadwood area of South Dakota who collapsed while cleaning snow from his roof. The storm also killed tens of thousands of cattle, damaged numerous buildings, brought travel to a standstill and shut down schools and public offices.

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