Glenn Woldt

Description

Written Memory

Text

It had been a really wet spring. Battle Creek was already swollen some. The boys, age 8 and 10, were at Kemp’s Kamp, which we owned. Darleen was in Pierre at a sorority convention. It was a beautiful summer day and we had just finished mowing the camp and had several campers and cabins were rented. We were excited thinking we’re off to a good tourist season.

About 5:30pm it clouded over and began to start raining. About 6:30pm it was pouring so hard you could not see very far. By 8:30pm the creek was out of its bank and over the county road and rising. By 9:00pm we had lost power. At 9:30pm the water had risen to a level where I told the boys to tell the trailers and RVs to move to higher ground. I went to the other end of the camp and got the people in tent camping and in cabins to come to the house and woodshed which was on higher ground. In one of the lower level cabins the people would not come out and were standing on the bed to be out of the water. I took the window screen off and coaxed the lady to the open window, grabbed her and pulled her out the window of the cabin. Her husband then followed.

Later that evening I had my flashlight on a pickup that was floating past with an arm out of the window waving for help but nothing could be done. Later I learned Search and Rescue found the man’s body. Propane tanks also raced by like torpedoes; there were at least 15 or more of the tanks found piled at Rushmore Cave. At one point lightening flashed and I saw the shower house crumble and disappear. Along with that we lost fencing, shelters, fireplaces, and picnic tables. I found our red stained material all the way through keystone.

It was a terrible long night with the continued roar of the rushing water in the canyon. The next morning I got my registration cards out and had roll call of the campers in front of the house/office. I was excited to find everyone was accounted for. It was foggy and gloomy and the area looked like a war zone. Everyone was trying to make the best of a terrible situation and planned a late afternoon picnic and we did! Everyone shared their food and lifted spirits. They slept in our house and woodshed or other campers. The road was totally destroyed and there was no water or electricity.

The next day, Sunday, the water level in Battle Creek was receding. Search and Rescue did come from Keystone, maneuvering up the creek to check and see we were all right and to assure us Keystone was still there, although destroyed. Darleen in Pierre only knew her family was alive because Nancy Kneip, the governor’s wife, had the sorority woman to the mansion to keep them informed. By Monday many of the campers were very nervous and wanted to leave. I had another group meeting, and shared with them I would walk those who wanted to, and could into Keystone. We had to pick our way on a route through the creek. The road and railroad tracks were destroyed. Those that could not walk out I assured them we would get help from Search and Rescue. Upon getting to Keystone I made arrangements for a helicopter to extract the rest of the people. The helicopter also extracted other people who lived up that road and were stranded. Those that couldn’t walk out were nervous I wouldn’t come back. I assured them I would be back and left my boys behind for assurance.

Everyone had to leave their campers, RVs, and equipment. It was four to six weeks before the road was repaired. I called all who still had belongings there and eventually all came back. I applied for an SBA load and spent the rest of the summer rebuilding. The Mennonites did come and volunteered their time restoring my cabins.

Collection

Citation

“Glenn Woldt,” Flood of 1972, accessed May 15, 2021, https://1972flood.omeka.net/items/show/620.