Surviving the 72 Flood
Fifty years after a 1972 flood killed 238 people in Rapid City and the Black Hills of South Dakota, survivors and rescuers tell their stories of struggle, loss and hope.
In the days, weeks and years after the 1972 Rapid City flood, lives change, memories linger and Rapid City rebuilds. Mayor Don Barnett, in office during the flood, recounts June 9, 1972, and the important decisions made during the following few days to change the face of the city. Flood survivors share memories of the flood five decades later.
A torrent of water rushes out of the Black Hills and through western Rapid City. A Native American woman is warned to leave for higher ground, but some family members try to ride out the flood and perish. Two couples escape their car and stay above the rising water by jumping onto floating rooftops. A welding supply business is inundated, so employees spend the night on top of a display counter. And National Guard soldiers are called to life-saving duty.
A torrent of water rushes out of the Black Hills and through western Rapid City. The son of a funeral director is called in to help his dad when they are overwhelmed with the bodies of flood victims. A pastor and his family are trapped in flood waters. A young man takes refuge with his parents in one of the few homes that withstands the flood. A department store owner loses everything as the flood takes his merchandise away and leaves several feet of mud behind.
A torrent of water rushes out of the Black Hills toward Rapid City. A teenager finds his mother’s home surrounded by raging water, while a man living high above Rapid Creek watches helplessly as homes and lives are swept away below. A real-estate developer is trapped by high water in one of his condominiums, and a young man is thrown into the water when a house breaks apart. Meanwhile, a National Guard soldier struggles to save a family on a rooftop.