Jack McBride


Written Memory


Rain of Terror
June 9, 1972 began much like any other day. The weather had been changing from rain to clear and back to showers.

The job of Fire Staff Officer with the State Forester’s office came with a number of various responsibilities. June was the month to start the campground inspections of fireplace units for fire safety in private campgrounds.

My wife and I came south from the northern hills, by way of Boulder Canyon. The weather became ominous, with low black clouds, thunder and lightning with winds. The last inspection of the day was concluded and we started for Rapid City.

Now the radio came alive with stories of heavy rains and winds along the front range of the hills. Two miles west of Sturgis we came upon a rockslide covering most of the east bound lane of a two lane highway. I advised the Sheriff’s Office by radio of the problem ad was asked to help with the traffic until the highway department could clear the road. As soon as the road was cleared of the debris we continued on to Rapid City.

A few tornado tails came out of the clouds, but did not touch down as far as we could tell. By this time heavy black clouds came in over the front range of the hills and heavy rain followed in the Piedmont and Tilford areas.

When we arrived home and we found out some young folks from Pierre had arrived and were supposed to go camping with our kids…they camped in our garage!

Later in the evening I went over to State Radio to see what was happening in the weather. At about ten pm calls started coming in over State Radio that some buildings were floating in Rapid Creek below Pactola Dam.

I stayed at State Radio all night and helped the dispatcher with radio traffic and phone calls. Early the next morning a Highway Patrolman came in and asked if we looked outside yet; we had not. Going out we saw nothing but a lake of water south of the National Guard camp. A house floated by followed by trees, an old building and debris of all kinds, just to mention a few things.

I returned home about nine that morning to find our lawn full of furniture, mattresses, chairs and other items from several homes. Several families lived in the lower part of the Canyon Lake area and had to evacuate to higher ground. Many people helped to search for folks that did not make it through the terrible storm.

The Red Cross and the Salvation Army had set up areas where drinking water was available. People working in the area were given shots to ward off any heath problems that might develop while working in this situation.



“Jack McBride,” Flood of 1972, accessed August 17, 2022, https://1972flood.omeka.net/items/show/521.