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McCook residents return to damaged homes

todayJune 27, 2024 4

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NORTH SIOUX CITY, SD (KELO) — People who live along flood-ravaged McCook Lake in southeastern South Dakota got their first up-close look at their homes since being chased away by the rising water over the weekend.

They’re taking stock of the damage as road crews work to improve access to the area.

Homeowners who are struggling to come to terms with all the damage.

A steady rain was the last thing McCook Lake residents wanted to see Thursday after the devastating downpours they’ve endured already.

MAP: McCook Lake decision timeline

“Hopefully, it doesn’t rain too much,” homeowner Brian Gunderson said.

Brian Gunderson, like other residents, received word Sunday to remove their boats and pontoons because McCook Lake was taking on more water.

“Within minutes, water was going into basements and taking over the whole community and everybody was scrambling, just to get out of their house and evacuate,” Gunderson said.

Gunderson says his flood-damaged home will likely have to be demolished… taking decades of memories with it.

“We’ve had kids that grew up with our kids reach out and talk about all the fun times that they had hanging out at our house over the years. It kind of hits home, when you start to relive all the fun times that took place,” Gunderson said.

It’s been a homecoming from a safe distance for residents anxious to reach their properties.

“I got as close as I could to it. There’s a big hole, it’s halfway in the water and there ain’t no way we could get to it. It’s deemed unsafe,” homeowner Doug Lingle said.

Heavy equipment has been clearing debris-clogged roads to allow more people to get onto their property.

Recent flooding affects mental health

Meanwhile, residents have been salvaging what they can, hauling away their possessions in trash bags slung over their shoulders.

They’re leaving behind a neighborhood forever changed by the destructive forces of nature, with the hope of one day returning and rebuilding.

“The lake is a special place and it ain’t so special no more. I hope time heals everything, I really do,” Lingle said.

Many of the homeowners have lived along the lake for most of their lives. It’s been difficult for some of them to process the degree of loss, with Lingle saying he was “speechless.”

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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