Flood of '72 remembered as tragedy and sacrifice

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - It is a night that's gone but never forgotten.
A flood with a tragic loss of life and property, caused by 15 inches of rain, much of which flowed into Rapid Creek, and overflowing a number of streams at an alarming rate.

"All that water, when you're decreasing the elevation from 5,000 feet to 3200 feet, that has a lot of force, it's moving downhill, it's gaining momentum, and so it's very powerful," said Susan Sanders, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

46 years later, friends of Rapid City Parks walked together to remember the casualties of the devastation and celebrate the park system that grew in its wake.

People like Rapid City native Ellen Bishop. Here she holds a photograph of her mother-in-law ... her husband says his mother and father never made it home from work that night in '72.

"He managed to get home from North Rapid by going on on Campbell Street he always said, and um got home and in the morning when he woke up, his parents were not home and so he knew they were dead," Bishop said.

Bishop is also responsible for the biographies that paint the picture of the lost lives, whom she says is the reason the land on which they called home is now an area for recreation.

"When they died, they definitely were victims of this flood. They were victims, but as time has gone on, they are not victims any more. I bridal at the term even for them. They are sacrifices. Their lives had to be given for this, for what we have here in the greenway, from what we have from one .. from New York St. ... they are sacrifices," Bishop said.

The president of Friends of Rapid City Parks says the anniversary opens the doors for learning.

"If we know that this Rapid Creek wants to flood and as we just saw flooding happens here, it was just a couple of weeks ago that we had a hundred year event in Southeast Rapid City that this could clearly happen again."

The goal was to pay tribute to the sacrifices that they say reshaped the city's landscape.

"So we need to remember those that gave their lives that evening you know in that terrible event however, I would also argue that we need to celebrate that event as well in that we now have this beautiful greenway that helps make Rapid City what it is today."