Eric Cowan


Written Memory


June 10, 2009


I was a 10-year-old boy visiting Rapid from my home town of Lead, SD. My aunt Ellen and uncle Millard frequently took me on trips to Rapid City to go to the Daisy Dell restaurant, visit Reptile Gardens, etc. On June 9, I remember being in their Jeep Wagoneer at Baken Park in Rapid at about 4:00 p.m. It was already raining very hard and I remember that Aunt Ellen said "We better get out of here".

We started driving toward Lead and planned to go up Boulder Canyon to get home. However, it was raining so hard that Uncle Millard decided to stop in Sturgis instead. We pulled in to the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly with the intent of waiting out the storm. As we were waiting, we watched from the car as the stock boys of the Piggly Wiggly started putting 50 lb sacks of flour and rice in front of the doors to try to stop the water from entering the store. After about 30 minutes, one of the stock boys came out and asked if we needed help. It was raining so hard it was obvious we weren't going to be able to get to Lead. The stock boy offered to let us stay at his family's nearby house overnight. He gave us directions and we slowly drove to this house, not knowing anyone inside.

The people in that house offered us a place to sleep and food to eat. After the grocery store closed, the stock boy walked home through the flooded streets and had a very close call. The street flooding had knocked the manhole cover off the sewer in the middle of the road. Not knowing it was missing, he stepped right into the hole and just caught himself with his elbows before being swept inside the sewer. I've never known the name of the stock boy or his family who helped us that night. I'm extremely grateful today for the generosity and kindness.

As we were eating breakfast at their home on the morning of June 10, I vividly remember listening to the radio and the horrible news about what had happened in the flood the night before.

My condolences to the victim's families.

Eric Cowan
Shorewood, MN



“Eric Cowan,” Flood of 1972, accessed September 30, 2022,