MITCHELL, S.D. — Employees of Klock Werks arrived to their South Kimball Street motorcycle shop Thursday morning, Sept. 12, splashing through multiple inches of standing water.
“We start out each morning with a prayer,” said owner Brian Klock. “We’re going to do that again today.”
Klock, employees and friends devised a plan of action. First on the list was to push the custom motorcycles out of the building and onto drier ground. At least 25 bikes — some one of a kind, others limited edition — were flooded out.
The storm that ran from Tuesday night to Thursday morning officially dropped more than 10 inches of rain in Mitchell, according to the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls.
In addition to the 2.42 inches of rain on Tuesday, Mitchell received an official 3.53 inches on Wednesday, breaking a single-day Sept. 11 rainfall record previously set in 1901 at 1.90 inches. On Thursday, Mitchell received 4.56 inches of rain, a Sept. 12 rainfall record previously held in 1982 at 1.27 inches. Mitchell’s record for rainfall in a single day all time is 4.66 inches on Aug. 11, 1953.
Other unofficial two-day reports were much more significant, recording as much as 9.5 inches of rain. Many rain gauges spilled over Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The airport in Mitchell received 7.09 inches of rain total for the 48-hour span of the two storms.
“It wasn’t just one; that’s what made it tough,” said Alex Trellinger, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. “We call it a ‘training storm.’ One storm happens and another follows the exact same path. Think of it like train cars — the storm just keeps going over it again and again.”
By late Thursday afternoon, Interstate 90 was scheduled to be closed from Highway 281 to Sioux Falls. Mitchell School District called off classes Thursday and then decided Friday was a no-go as well.
City crews determined to work together
The severity of flooding from the storm is unlike anything Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson has witnessed growing up in the city.
Everson said crews were up before dawn on Thursday attending to the lift stations scattered across the city.
“The lift stations are all full and overloaded, and they’ve been out pumping as fast as they can to stay ahead of things,” Everson said of the city crews.
“We had severe flooding in the spring, and the crews have experience with disasters like this. They did a great job then, and I’m confident they will now,” Everson said. “It will require some patience to get through this, but we need to do our best to get the water under control.”
Everson addressed several concerns that he wants residents to be aware of during the flooding, which includes children playing in standing water and drivers taking the risk of traveling through high amounts of water.
With the uncertainty of standing water containing sewage and contaminants, Everson said children who play in the water also run the risk of becoming ill.
“At this point, we don’t feel there are any sewage and health concerns that the water contains, but it’s a risk one should not take,” Everson said.
Everson cautioned residents living along Lake Mitchell to monitor water levels and their boat lifts.
According to Everson, the city issued a no-wake zone Wednesday evening, as water levels are well above the spillway.
“We’re expecting the lake to only rise with all the water in every creek around the city, and as it drains it could get ugly,” Everson said.
To combat flooding, the city is offering sandbags to residents, which can be picked up at the Davison County Highway Shop. Individuals will have to fill their own bags.
“This water has to drain and go somewhere, but we can’t control Mother Nature. We all have to be patient and see this storm through,” Everson said.