AKRON, IA (KSFY) – For nearly six weeks the two-mile stretch along South Dakota Highway 48 has been closed due to flooding.
“The water’s come up about six weeks ago or so and the roads been underwater ever since,” Tyler Small, South Dakota Department of Transportation highway maintenance worker, said.
If you look in the distance, you can see the small Iowa town from the state of South Dakota.
“I’ve been working for the DOT for twelve years, and it’s the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Small said.
But, there is one problem – getting there. The highway is undermined about ten feet, which means the road is eroded due to water flowing over it. This makes the highway unsafe to travel across.
“Probably one of the few people you know whos Beagle can catch fish in their yard,” Roger Price, a South Dakota resident who owns two businesses in Akron, IA, said.
Price has lived in the town of Akron for ten years. Seven of those years he dealt with flooding. But, nothing as significant as closing down a major highway for six weeks.
“We had a two-mile drive to get to town, and now it takes us 22 miles,” he said.
“It’s part of life here, and it shouldn’t be we have the infrastructure to take care of these to raise them up or to fix the dikes so that these floods that happen can be more restrictive,” Tony Heisterkamp, a business owner in Akron, IA, said.
Adding extra minutes behind the wheel are adding up for those living outside the community.
“Our roads, our gravel roads getting into town are in very, very poor condition in South Dakota and in Iowa, too,” Heisterkamp said. “So, we’ve got a lot of restrictive travel on what roads we can get to town on. Hopefully, they’re improving. But, it’s been a real hassle.”
Because Highway 48 is closed, businesses in town say they have seen a decrease of 30% or more in traffic in and out of their stores. Including, Chub’s Country Store.
“Probably about 1/3 of our business,” Janell Lanning, owner of Chub’s Country Store, said. “We have a lot of customers who come from South Dakota. A lot of the farmers come in from South Dakota to fill their vehicles. Bring their kids to school, stop in and get breakfast. SO, we lose a little bit of traffic that way.”
Even though the community is facing difficulties, people here are banding together to get through these tough times.
“A lot of our hometown businesses are locally owned, and they have been in families for 60 to 100 years,” Sharon Frerichs, Akron, IA mayor, said. “We have a real dedication to our local businesses.”
It is unclear as to when the road will reopen, the South Dakota Department of Transportation needs to wait until things eventually dry out.