SIOUX CITY | For decades, torrential rains would cause Sioux Cityans to turn a wary eye toward Perry Creek.
The creek, running from Plymouth County and passing through Sioux City before dumping into the Missouri River, normally runs at a slow trickle, but rises quickly after heavy rains. The creek basin covers 78 square miles, mostly in rural Plymouth County, where the creek is fed by agricultural field runoff and several small tributaries.
Those quick rises occurred more times than anyone liked, often causing severe property damage when spilling its banks. From 1905 to 1990, Perry Creek flooded 19 times. One of the most notorious floods was in 1944, when the creek swept through 330 city blocks and damaged more than 1,100 buildings.
During the 1990s, city leaders and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers settled on a plan to tame Perry Creek by widening, deepening and straightening the channel. The plan included removing dozens of houses and buildings, upgrading bridges and streets across the channel, relocating utility lines and removing trees and brush.
The new channel was engineered to handle much more water, an amount that would normally occur only in a 100-year flood.
Also included in the Perry Creek Flood Control Project was a greenway that runs along the creek, providing recreation space, a walking trail and landscaping.
In August 2007, the corps completed the $97 million project from Stone Park Boulevard south to the Missouri River.
Today, the creek no longer poses the threat it once did. Torrential rains early this summer swelled Perry Creek, but it remained in its banks, just like the plans called for.