Just about everyone now has a story to tell about the Flood of 2011.
Dikes have been built to protect communities, homes, businesses and industries. Many who live along Missouri River tributaries are keeping a worried eye on those swollen waterways. Others are trying to keep groundwater out of their basements.
Countless people helped friends and relatives move. Volunteers filled sandbags. Many Siouxlanders have taken in co-workers, church friends or relatives until this storm passes. Local officials have worked around the clock to keep us safe.
Floods in Siouxland have been a constant companion -- just like mosquitoes at Fourth of July picnics and blizzards in March.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tamed the Sioux City-area rivers starting with the dams on the Missouri, channelizing the rampaging Floyd River and building levees along the Big Sioux. In 2007, the corps completed most of the Perry Creek flood control project.
Consequently, I think it came as a shock to discover the Missouri would flood to this extent as she tries to reclaim her former flood plain. The Anderson Dance Pavilion resembles a watery donut. Floodwaters are swirling through houses and farm fields. Does it seem like we've been transported to the Twilight Zone?
Two of my early childhood memories involve flooding. One day in 1952, my great Aunt Isobel Webb Schatz took me downtown. After shopping in Kresge's on the northwest corner of Fourth and Pierce streets, we waited for the green light to walk across Fourth Street to Davidson's Department Store.
As I looked up the street, I spotted ripples of water flowing toward us. Aunt Isobel yanked my arm and away we ran to her car to escape, much to my disappointment. The big flood of '52 had arrived.
The next year, Mom and Dad loaded my little brother Jim and me into the De Soto to look at the approaching Floyd floodwaters. We parked on a hill near Sixth and Iowa streets. One woman who had been standing outside her small home on dry land was engulfed by the angry, rushing floodwaters. We watched her climb to her roof. Suddenly, other figures dotted roof tops.
Dad, a police officer, sped to the police station to report the city needed to get boats in the valley. Mom drove Jim and me home, while Dad joined the rescue efforts. The 1953 flood claimed 14 lives. It destroyed homes, the Wall Street Mission, businesses, the Stockyards and packing plants.
The Big Sioux flooded through the years. What I remember about that river was the stories Mom's aunts and uncles told about all the fun they had at Riverside Park in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Circus operators bathed their elephants in the river, while another promoter had trained his elk to dive off an elevated platform into the clear water below.
In the 1950s, Perry Creek flooding forced my parents to leave the house Dad had built on Rebecca Street. I remember how sad they were.
After the 2011 floodwaters retreat, some may chose to relocate, but many will start over again. That's the pioneer spirit.