South Dakota is no stranger to Mother Nature's challenges. We weather blizzards and droughts. We bear up in the face of tornadoes. We chop and skate our way through ice storms. Whatever Mother Nature sends our way, we buckle down and do what is necessary.
From the worst of situations emerged the best of South Dakota.
From the Freeman Boy Scouts who abandoned their camping weekend to help sandbag in Fort Pierre, to the students of a retired teacher who came to her home to fortify it against the rising tides, to the anonymous truck driver who stopped in town only long enough to leave $1500 to buy pizza and beverages for the volunteers, we saw countless examples of selfless concern for those in need. From Pierre and Ft. Pierre, to Yankton, to communities in Clay and Union Counties, countless examples of devotion to our fellow man arose again and again. They made my heart swell with pride for this state, and for her people.
South Dakota knows about perseverance. We are self-reliant. In the face of disasters, we do not wait for someone to save us. Dakota Dunes embodied this attitude of action. With precious little time to prepare for the impending flood, and without specific information to identify the extent of the effort required, the citizens of Dakota Dunes did not wait around. They started building a levee before they knew how high it needed to reach. The communities of Pierre and Fort Pierre sprang to action, resolved that no amount of water would drown their resolve. Volunteers filled sandbags around the clock, knowing that if we worked together, we would overcome.
Words cannot describe the outpouring of hard work and support that South Dakota has seen over the past two weeks. Homeowners have risen to the occasion. Friends and family have rallied behind them. Dozens of truck drivers and thousands of volunteers have streamed into affected areas. Construction crews raced the clock, building levees to save our towns. As I write this the waters are still rising, but South Dakota will not let up. We will continue to work hard.
Years from now, we will remember this as the greatest flood in the history of the Missouri. But we will also remember this: as high as the floodwaters have risen, South Dakota has risen higher.