Guest Commentary: Preparation is best safeguard against floods

Spring is upon us, and South Dakota is enjoying warmer weather at last. But the spring thaw brings renewed concerns about flooding. Last year's floods and this winter's heavy snows contributed to saturation in our soils and high water in our lakes, making flooding a certainty in South Dakota this spring.

The James River basin and the Big Sioux River between Watertown and Sioux Falls are of particular concern. To see whether your area will be affected by the floods, check While flooding is a certainty in South Dakota, the severity will be determined by the speed of the melt and the additional precipitation we receive in coming weeks.

All levels of government, from county emergency managers to the Departments of Public Safety and Transportation to the Federal Emergency Response Administration (FEMA), have been actively preparing against the risks of flooding. Led by Secretary of Public Safety Trevor Jones and Kristi Turman, our director of Emergency Management, we are ensuring that sandbags, boats, pumps, generators and shelter supplies are readily available. Our entire emergency management team has worked with all levels of government so that South Dakota is as prepared as possible. I thank them for this work.

Governments at all levels will do what they can to protect public infrastructure.  But all citizens should evaluate their vulnerability to the impending floods. The best preparations are those taken by individuals. You know your property best.  Being prepared puts you in control.

We encourage residents to take a number of steps to prepare for flooding in their areas. Be sure that you have working sump pumps on hand, that you have moved personal property out of the lowest level of your home, and that you have an emergency supply kit prepared. Contact your county emergency manager for information on how to obtain sandbags.

Preparation is the best safeguard against the floods, and I encourage you to take all necessary steps to ensure that you sustain minimal damage during this natural disaster.

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