Rapid City officials face questions about storm drain safety after ‘near tragic’ incident

RAPID CITY, SD — Rapid City officials are facing a lot of questions about storm drain safety after a young boy was swept away for several city blocks during the Sunday storm.

“The risk of flooding is as bad as I’ve seen in the past 2 decades,” says Public Works Director Dale Tech.

RCFD says the boy was swept through the storm drain next to the Peace Lutheran Church on East Saint Anne Street. Five city blocks later the child pulled himself from the rushing water. But not long after, more kids were seen playing in the storm drain.

After what officials are calling a ‘near tragic’ incident some have raised concerns about the safety of the channels during heavy storms.

They say putting up a fence or barrier can actually do more harm than good…

“Typically when you’re trying to fence in an open system it catches debris and makes flooding worse then there’s that issue,” said Tech, “It’s a balance between flood security, risk, and damage.”

Trying to retro-fit an already developed neighborhood has its challenges too.

A consultant is looking at  the Meade-Hawthorne neighborhood to see if improvements can be made, but the city has to build carefully. What are believed to be improvements don’t always turn out that way.

According to Dale Tech, “It might provide help from an every day thunderstorm but it will have no effect on a larger storm such as the type we’ve been seeing this year.”

And as one of the wettest years in recent memory drags on, officials like RCFD Lieutenant Jim Bussell say the responsibility to stay safe in the city’s waterways and drainage canals lies with all of us.

“Please be careful, stay out of the water. Parents educate your kids like you would crossing the street or talking to strangers. Talk to them about being safe when they’re out there playing.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News