It was like nothing Siouxland had ever seen. Until the summer of 2011, Gavins Point Dam had never released more than 70,000 cubic feet of water per second, KTIV-TV, Sioux City, Iowa, reported.
By late May, releases were expected to reach 110,000 to 120,000 cfs. Even those estimates fell short.
On June 23, the dam reached an astounding peak of 160,000 cfs, enough to fill more than 2 million, 2-liter soda bottles every second.
That water ended up drowning an RV and trailer community called Larson’s Landing, near Yankton, S.D.
Folks made it out OK, but many of their summer homes were lost.
Larry Steinbrecher has set up camp in Larson’s Landing near Yankton, South Dakota, for three years now.
Last summer’s record flooding destroyed more than just his campsite. “For myself, it was just an unmanageable,” he said.
Sandbags were set up to keep the current from sweeping away the river bank. They’re still there.
Owner Doug Larson said they may have saved part of the land. But when the water receded, he didn’t even know where to begin.
“There was so much debris and junk and it was really just disheartening to look at it all,” said Larson.
Last year, when Steinbrecher heard about the possibility of flood waters moving in, he had moved everything out.
“We had trailers and trucks and all kinds of stuff, packed out. When we left there was nothing on our property except for sand,” said Steinbrecher.
The Steinbrechers were one of the first families to move back in after the waters receded. Now, like many other residents, Steinbrecher spends most of his days clearing the shoreline and grinding up stumps and driftwood.
“We have the second shot at doing stuff,” said Steinbrecher. “So, when we came back we really had a chance to improve on our site.”
While waters knocked out a large portion of the beach at Larson’s Landing, including a section that used to be a volleyball court, the Larsons are confident that they’ll be able to rebuild, even if it takes some time.
That hope is what keeps Larson going.
“If it wasn’t for that,” said Larson. “Linda and I would have jumped in the river a long time ago.”
Doug Larson hopes to have 30 new pads ready for residents by the Fourth of July.