Brian Cole


Written Memory


May 16, 2022


June 9, 1972, the Rapid City Flood remembered by Brian H. Cole
I remember that night very well. I just turned 17 in late April 1972 and was at a party up the hill near Camp Rapid. As the evening approached, we could hear someone shooting a gun and another blowing a whistle in the neighborhood west of Rapid Creek, near Baken Park shopping center. At that time, none of us knew of the disaster that had happened at lower elevations. Eventually I left the party and went down to the neighborhood below. The National Guard was there trying to get a truck out of the mud. This was about 5 blocks from Rapid Creek, across from Sioux Park. I met up with 2 other guys that were looking to help. None of us knew one another, but we formed a small group and we decided to try to get to the people that were shooting the gun and blowing the whistle. One of the guys within our small group took the lead, and he was the age of someone that may have come back from Vietnam. I say this because he took charge, like a military leader would, and that was perfectly fine with me. We took off towards where we thought the sounds were coming, towards Rapid Creek. The water became deeper and flowed stronger as we walked closer to where the gun shots and whistles were coming from. At one point we tied a rope around one guy (the lead guy) and he tried to make it closer to where we thought someone needed help, while we held the rope in case he was swept off of his feet. We may have been about two blocks from Rapid Creek at this point. But he came back and said the water was just too deep and fast. At about this time the gun shots stopped and we could no longer hear any whistle either. We started back, checking the houses as we went. All lights were out and it was dark. At one point I suddenly dropped under water because I fell into a basement (the house was already gone). After that we came across an older couple in one of the many flooded houses, so I carried the older gentleman, and another guy carried his wife. This older guy was clearly in shock, visibly shaking badly, but he was a strong South Dakotan, cussing all the way while being carried by this 17-year-old. We made it back to where the National Guard was, and their truck was free from the mud, so they took the couple up to Camp Rapid, along with others. I’m sure we all remember the weeks that followed as well. Every day we’d see emergency vehicles go by, and we knew they found another body (one of the deadliest floods in U.S. history).
Brian H. Cole
Stevens High “73”
SDSM&T “81”



“Brian Cole,” Flood of 1972, accessed September 28, 2022,