‘Neighbors helping neighbors’

As state and local officials continued to work to bring resources and manpower to help protect the area from rising waters, those living in Dakota Dunes scurried to protect their homes and move their family’s belongings to safer ground.

On Tuesday, almost every home had a trailer parked in front of it as furniture, clothing and other household items littered driveways, waiting to be packed and moved.

Though it was a voluntary evacuation, those living in the area said they observed most of their neighbors taking an opportunity to leave before floodwaters hit the area. Some already had turned off their water and stopped drains to prevent water from coming up through them.

Continuous noise from semi trucks carrying loads of sand filled the Dakota Dunes area, joined by the sound of Blackhawk helicopters overhead.

Here are some of the stories of those preparing for the flooding:


State Sen. Dan Lederman has lived in his current home in the Dakota Dunes area for about six years with his wife and three children.

On Tuesday, he and his family packed up their belongings and continued to work on about an 8-foot berm made of dirt that would surround the back of their house to protect it from water.

“We’ve never had flooding, our sump pumps have never had to turn on,” Lederman said. “We are just happy that our families are safe and thankful for the resources that have been provided to us. The house is just an object, compared to the lives of others.”

The family plans to move into a rental house for the time being, but if the flooding lasts for two months as has been predicted, Lederman said it could be six to eight months before he can return to his home.


Shiubaun and John Dougherty, an elderly couple who have lived in Dakota Dunes for about seven years, said Tuesday they had most of their belongings packed up and were going to be sending them off to different relatives’ homes.

The couple said they probably will be living at their cabin in Okoboji, Iowa, for the rest of the summer, and they’re worried about their home.

“We feel deep down inside that maybe we, over in this part, may escape the floodwaters,” said Shiubaun’s daughter, Sheila Richter, before going to get sandbags for her parents.

Richter came from Omaha to help prepare her parents’ home for possible flooding. Other siblings also came from other states.

“I’m shocked at what I see. Somebody said it looks like a war zone, but everyone is in the same boat,” Richter said. “There’s lots of neighbors helping neighbors.”


As workers pulled out and towed away Scott Ward’s air conditioner and other electrical devices in preparation for flooding, Ward said he felt the situation could have been prevented.

“I live on this river; I look at it every single day, and for the last six to seven months you could barely see the water it was so low,” Ward said, adding he felt that better planning by the Army Corps of Engineers could have prevented the flooding that threatens his home.

“The water has never been this high,” he said. “There is no excuse for this.”

Ward said his children are scared and want to return to their home in Dakota Dunes but have been moved to stay with relatives until it is safe to return home.

He said he plans to voice his disagreement with how the corps handled this event, possibly even bring down lawsuits.


About three years ago, when Rick Collins and his family were looking for a home, having one situated right on the Missouri River seemed ideal, and it has never caused problems for the homeowner.

Tuesday, workers and National Guardsmen started building up a levee right in his Dakota Dunes backyard to protect his and hundreds of other homes from the rising waters that already have enveloped a nearby putting green and walkway bridge.

“Right now, we’re homeless,” Collins said Tuesday afternoon, amid boxes waiting to be carried to a large trailer which will store the family’s items. “Never in my wildest imagination I would have ever thought it would flood.”

Collins said high demand for temporary housing has made finding a place to rent difficult, and although it’s frustrating, he said he and his family have come to grips with the situation.

“I don’t think this is the time to be angry,” Collins said. “The one thing that comes out in a time like this, is neighbors pulling together. If there’s any good in this, this is it.”

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