Record snowfall has city preparing for flooding in and around the Brookings area.
As the snow melts and water levels rise, many Brookings residents have one thing on their mind: flooding.
“At this point, if you haven’t seen flooding, you probably won’t because it probably won’t get much worse,” said Dennis Todey, state climatologist.
Todey said Brookings has seen flooding on the north side, especially by Six Mile Creek, and on the west and south sides of Brooking, near Volga and on Main Avenue.
“Many houses in the Big Sioux River flood plain have water surrounding them,” Todey said.
Jeff Weldon, city manager of Brookings, said flooding in the area is most prevalent along streams and rivers.
“We have identified areas prone to flooding and have taken steps to protect them,” Weldon said.
Weldon said that every flooding situation is different, adding that the current flooding plan in place is flexible.
“The city follows an emergency management plan for flooding which includes activating the Red Cross and other emergency responders,” Weldon said. “The rising creeks are predictable and we can mobilize sandbags and traffic barricades as well as evacuation of residents.”
Weldon said floodwaters are lowering with the dropping temperatures, but when warm weather returns, river and stream levels could rise again.
Todey said flooding in Brookings is caused by three factors. The first is snowfall.
“Brookings has gotten a total of 52.6 inches of snowfall this winter, which is the third largest total on record,” Todey said.
In addition to the snowfall, the total precipitation in 2010 was 39.8 inches. Todey said this is also a factor in flooding this year.
“We were wetter than average last fall. There is less ability for the soils to soak up all the water and there is more run-off,” he said. “[Since] the rivers are running high, any precipitation will have an effect on it. We may see additional flooding with heavy rainfall.”
The third factor is how quickly the snow is melting. Todey said it hasn’t been warm enough for the snow to melt until now.
With the recent cold temperatures however, Todey said there will not be much melting. This will allow the streams and rivers to recede a little.
John Little, senior history major, said he has had problems with flooding this year, as well as last summer and fall.
“Our street was completely flooded, so we couldn’t leave our house without walking through a few feet of water,” Little said.
When flooding is bad enough. Little said that the city will set up a roadblock on their street and then clean up the mess left from the water.
“The police are typically the ones to call us to warn us they are blocking off our road,” Little said.
The City of Brookings said residents should just be prepared for flooding.
“Because of the wet period, we may see flooding throughout the year. We should always be aware of it and be ready to react when it occurs,” Todey said.
Weldon said residents should remove snow from around their foundations and make sure their sump pumps are working properly to help prevent flooded basements.
Residents can go to bereadybrookings.com for information on flooding and how to prepare for it.
Todey said there is a possibility of a wet summer, but it will not be as wet as last summer.