AP NEWS

South Dakota flooding prompts evacuations, school closures

September 13, 2019
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Susan Larson sweeps up debris from the sidewalk where a tree fell over during a tornado, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, in Sioux Falls, S.D. A storm carrying three tornadoes struck South Dakota's largest city overnight, leaving a trail of destroyed buildings and downing power lines. (Erin Bormett/The Argus Leader via AP)
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Susan Larson sweeps up debris from the sidewalk where a tree fell over during a tornado, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, in Sioux Falls, S.D. A storm carrying three tornadoes struck South Dakota's largest city overnight, leaving a trail of destroyed buildings and downing power lines. (Erin Bormett/The Argus Leader via AP)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Heavy rain soaking much of southeastern South Dakota pushed the Big Sioux River to record levels on Thursday, flooded roads, closed schools and blocked travelers.

More than 7 inches of rain fell over two days near Madison, South Dakota. Up to 30 homes were evacuated Thursday morning, with many of those residents jumping into the bucket of a front-end loader to reach safety, Madison Police Sgt. Aaron Talich said.

A creek that flows through the center of Madison is back in its banks, Talich said Thursday afternoon. But residents near a creek that flows through the south side of Madison have been notified about that creek rising, he said.

Dakota State University was closed Thursday because of the flooding in Madison, which is northwest of Sioux Falls, and a no-travel advisory was issued in Lake County. Students on campus were urged to conserve water by not showering or doing laundry due to an overload at the city treatment plant.

The Big Sioux River above Dell Rapids surpassed March’s record-breaking flooding of 1,489.5 feet, the Argus Leader reported. The river was last recorded at 6 p.m. on Thursday at 1,489.09 feet, according to the National Weather Service. Flood stage is 1,481 feet.

Floodwaters closed Interstate 90 from Plankinton to Sioux Falls, the South Dakota Department of Transportation said late Thursday afternoon.

According to the National Weather Service, up to 11 inches of rain fell over two days in parts of South Dakota.

Meanwhile, Xcel Energy said the number of customers still without power after three tornadoes struck Sioux Falls this week was down to about 1,200.