Mike Sahm


Written Memory


June 29, 2012


A former coworker had left her radio in the pressing area of the Laundry/dry cleaning section of the business and when asked readily agreed to take the radio to Marie as soon as I was done with the Friday evening laundry.
After clocking out I gathered up Marie's radio and headed for the car. It was still rainiing but didn't expect many problems at all. But while crossing the Black Hawk bridge I looked out the driver's side window, the water seemed to be just below the bottom of the window. That was disconcerting so when I got to Marie's shared that I would go back to Rapid City via the freeway. Also urged her to stay away from the Black Hawk bridge until it had been checked for stability,
Left Marie's at 9 PM and headed directly back to northeast Rapid City, though did stop and pick up a six pack of Bud for the long evening ahead.
Listened to the radio and the blo by blo narrative of the DJ broadcasting from the station's office at Baken Park Shopping Center. Believe the DJ moved up to the roof of the building still broadcasting until the building and equipment therein were inundated which stopped the broadcasting.
The next morning tried to contact family, was able to access an outside line (remember, this was pre cell phones and all that were available was sporadic land line phones and Amatuer Radio enthusiasts). While I was fortunate to access several outgoing lines early on, but either got no answer or a first generation answering machine. It would be several more days before finally connecting with family.
As the city water supply was contaminated, learning the locations of the military distribution points for water, shots, and questions.
By Monday morning I was ready to get my hands dirty so ended up being assigned to help clear mud off the 2nd and 3rd floor of the hospital located between Rapid Creek and Jackson Blvd. Initially we were using the reverse concept of a bucket brigade, we filled up buckets with mud and tossed them out. My partner was an elderly gentleman (probably about my age now) who was distant and aloof in the beginning, but by lunch break he came up to me and stated something to the effect that "While your long, curly (natural afro) in auburn and your clothes from the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco lead me to believe you wouldn't get much work done, but I was wrong, you are fast, efficient, and consistent."
By Tuesday, Hi Hat Laundry and Drycleaner had been reopened as it was convienently located just across the street from the National Guard Camp and the camp wanted an accessible source to wash their clothes and there were businesses and families bringing in what they could salvage to see if we could get the tougher stains out. For several weeks worked 6 AM until 12 AM.
Worked at the laundry for several more months and then was hired by Self Service Furniture. It was many months before we stopped receiving the emergency vouchers for beds, table and chairs and such.
Though I moved away from Rapid City many years ago, it will always have a special place in my heart.



“Mike Sahm,” Flood of 1972, accessed September 28, 2022, https://1972flood.omeka.net/items/show/580.