SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — When the community looks back on the 2011 floods, some are surprised to learn its really been 10 years, some forgot moments from that time, but everyone remembers how the community rallied together to minimize destruction and support fellow neighbors.
And in like many situations, officials learned as time went on what to do in future situations.
“After 2011, 2019 and even 2018 we just, each time we get a better understanding for what that means for our river banks.”
Jeff Dooley is the district manager of the Dakota Dunes Community of Improvement District. He said each year he’s learned more.
“During both the 2011 and 2019 events, we took elevation surveys of the water elevations surfaces, so we could really understand what releases from Gavin’s Point and flows from Sioux City what those relate to actual elevations,” Dooley said. “So that’s one of the most valuable piece of information that we have gathered over the years.”
The information was provided to the corps of engineers, FEMA and several other organizations so that they would be able to conduct their own research and help mitigate future flooding.
Dooley said the city has invested a significant amount of money for preventative measures, a total of nearly $17 million.
“Storm sewers are a big issue in any community that’s on the river, we need to make sure that water does not flow back up through them and then when it rains, when water is high, we need to be able to evacuate water to the river,” said Dooley.
One area of concern was Dakota Valley School District. Al Leber was the superintendent at the time.
“They needed a place to sandbag, they utilized the parking lot, in front of the building and then there was a bus parking lot and moved the busses out and put a sand bagging effort back there too, and so there were hundreds of people sandbagging,” Leber said.
As time progressed, Dakota Valley District was no longer a matter in question and instead, turned into a place of shelter.
“They also brought in a group, at first they called them the smoke jumpers but I think they’re firefighters, called a rapid response team out of the Rapids City area, and there was about 15 to 20 of them that actually stayed in our wrestling room,” said Leber.
Dooley said he gave him keys to the building, mats to sleep on, and open access to showers.
“We also opened up the gym, they brought a few cots in for anyone in the community that felt displaced and needed to get out of the heat.”
Dooley said he feels prepared for any future event, thanks to the knowledge gained from past disasters.
“Learning where our weak spots were, in other words, where the water comes in at first, where do you respond first, what kind of measures you have to bring to the table given certain events. Before it was all theoretical and those theories proved right and wrong in some instances and allowed us to correct so we have a lot better understanding how to respond to things now that we had 10-15 years ago.”