While they're not opening this weekend, public pools across the metro will soon be welcoming in swimmers.
"This summer we are anticipating a busier summer than usual because of last season and a lot of pools being closed," said aquatics coordinator Sarah Deming. "We are also anticipating a lot of children coming to the pools who didn't swim at all last year. So we are making sure that our guards are really well trained, especially more than normal."
The lifeguards at the Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA are ready to dive into a new outdoor pool session, with many guards returning from summers past and spending days training and recertifying, making sure pool visitors feel safe this summer.
"It takes about four days, but we have them swim their 300 yards, practice any scenario that we can think of; an active drowning person, a passive drowning victim. Injuries that can happen on the pool deck," said Cailee Conlon-Trudo, "we do a lot of different scenarios drills for our staff to get them on their toes and ready for anything."
There will be seven lifeguards on staff during open pool hours, plus pool management. For visitors to the Y's outdoor pool, swimmers 13 and under are asked to take a swim test. This gives staff and swimmers an extra layer of safety this summer.
"So when you come to the front door, we will make sure you are swim tested," Conlon-Trudo said, "and those swim tests help us know who needs to wear a life jacket and who to keep a closer eye on."
Summer lifeguards don't just train leading into the summer season, but all summer long. practicing skills and drills to ensure everyone has a safe and fun summer swim season.
"We are going to have continuous in-service for the staff all summer long," Deming said. "Make sure their skills are drilled into their heads. They are going to be prepared for anything that can happen because we will be practicing all the time."
The Y also offers swimming lessons for kids and adults.
If you have a private pool, it's recommended you never let young kids use it without supervision.
SEE THE VIDEO
2011 was the year of the billion-dollar disaster, recording more damage in 12 months than for the entire decade that made up the 1980s. One of those billion-dollar disasters was the Great Flood of 2011, which saw the Missouri River swell to historic heights, stretching far beyond its banks, flooding homes and businesses and changing the local landscape permanently.
In a Siouxland News Special Presentation, the First Look Weather Team is taking a look back on the flood of 2011 and how the tri-state region rebuilt after that devastating summer.
WHAT LED TO THE FLOOD
Before we talk about the flood itself, we need to dive into what led to it.
Believe it or not, the stage was set in the summer before, in 2010, with 20 inches of rainfall in Siouxland. That winter also brought above-normal precipitation. Further north, more water was headed into a river system that was already flooding downstream.
"We were just starting to see the snowmelt in the northern Rockies. They had been sitting at 120-130% of normal snowpack heading into late May," said Michael Gillispe, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service. "Just about the time that snowpack started to melt off, basically the eastern half of Montana and the Plains saw about a year's worth of precipitation in three weeks."
"And all of that water over that large area was coming into the Missouri River system at the same time that the snowmelt was coming off of the northern Rockies. So, that's when things started to get crazy," said Gillispe.
All of that water had to go somewhere.
Unfortunately, the six major dams and reservoirs along the Missouri River between Montana and Siouxland were at 100% capacity. To compensate for the excess water, the Army Corps of Engineers had a decision to make. And On May 29th, 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent out a warning that caught nearly everyone off guard.
RECORD WATER ON THE MISSOURI
That is how many of the residents in Siouxland described that summer. Communities up and down the Missouri saw record amounts of water inundate everything in its path.
"The first thing is, we identified where we thought the flooding would take or would be and how long would it take to get there, how long it would last, of course, how long it would last, we didn't know it was gonna last that long," said John Remus, a water resources engineer with the USACE.
To read and learn more about the record water the Missouri saw that summer, check out this story.
Warnings of impending high water echoed through communities throughout Siouxland on Memorial Weekend 2011, leaving very little time to spare for those along the water, leaving them scrambling to get what they could out of their homes and businesses and create sandbag berms around their properties.
Gary Brown has been the Director of Woodbury County Emergency Services for decades, responding to disasters like the crash of United Flight 232 in 1989. But the flood of 2011 may have been his most unpredictable yet. Watch his sit-down with Chief Meteorologist Cat Taylor here.
Meteorologist Vivian Rennie spoke to some of those in Siouxland about their experience in 2011. You can find her interviews with them here.
The Missouri River reached historic levels that summer and there are still places throughout Siouxland where remnants of that summer exist. Chief Meteorologist Cat Taylor visited some of those places, to show us what has changed over the last 10 years. You can watch her story below or click here to view it on YouTube.
The 185th Air Refueling Wing and other National Guard troops were deployed in the tri-state to not only help with flood mitigation efforts, but to monitor levees and track the rising waters from the skies. Military helicopters were brought into Siouxland to assist.
Siouxland News Reporter Katie Copple spoke to two members of the 185th ARW who were there that year. You can see her story here.
Siouxland News at Sunrise Anchor Jacob Heller was a reporter at KMEG 14 in 2011.
Now, he takes a look back at the flood of 2011, through his camera lens from a decade ago.
The floodwaters on the Missouri peaked on July 21st that year, but took months to fully recede.
"They had to slowly let that water out upstream," said David Pearson, a senior service hydrologist, National Weather Service. "They have to kind of pace it out as time goes on, so it took several months."
Once the water finally returned to its banks, it was time for the next challenge - the clean-up.
Meteorologist Vivian Rennie spoke to several residents and businesses about the clean-up and what that all entailed. You can watch her story here.
10 YEARS LATER
While the Missouri River has reached flood level several times since 2011, none have come close to reaching the level of destruction as it did 10 years ago.
Meteorologist Vivian Rennie spoke to several residents whose homes and businesses were hit hard that summer. You can see her story here.
The Missouri River has quite the history, acting as a jumping-off point for many trails that opened up the American West, including the Oregon Trail and Pony Express.
Now, a 100-mile national park, called the Missouri National Recreational River, runs between the Gavins Point Dam and Ponca State Park and remains the last significant stretch of free-flowing river.
SEE THE VIDEO
"I was leaving my house at four in the morning and I was getting home about 10 at night. Then start all over again."
As the Missouri River swelled to record heights in the summer of 2011, members of the 185th Air Refueling Wing, like Master Sergeant Dave Henson, were called in, deploying on a mission in their own backyard.
"So, they put together a Crisis Action Team and Water Rescue Teams and they were working with them, finding the worst spots to deploy the Water Action Teams." Master Sgt. Henson said. "We were in charge of crisis management for any emergency rescue they were going to use the helicopters for."
Troops jumped in where they were needed, building levees, sandbagging homes and businesses, and assisting throughout the tri-state in preparation for the flood.
"In 2011, I was doing aircraft crew chiefing, is what they call an aircraft mechanic on the KC135 at that time," said Master Sergeant Ron Hanson, "and we heard of the flood happening and so the state came up and came to our unit and wanted us to have some individuals to volunteer and step up and patrol the levees to keep the infrastructure of Sioux City safe."
Levee patrol meant hourly walks across the manmade dikes looking for cracks and weak spots, checking and preparing any issues they came across. Master Sgt. Hanson and his team were stationed along Larsen Park Road in downtown Sioux City, patrolling from what is now Crave all the way to the end of the Andersen Dance Pavillion.
"Right behind the Interpretive Center, the levee was built around a great big cottonwood tree," Master Sgt. Hanson recalled, "the tree was in the middle. Of course, it started swaying back and forth which started the levee to crack."
The levees were patrolled day and night by members of the Iowa Air National Guard. Not only were they looking for issues within the levee itself, but they were also making sure people weren't entering the area.
"It was absolutely closed off to anybody except for military only that was in charge of that patrol," Master Sgt. Hanson said, "we had a few encounters and we had phones that we could direct call to the police force and they came down and helped out."
As waters began to rise, up in the sky was a sight not seen in Siouxland, military helicopters.
"We had South Dakota helicopters here, Iowa and Minnesota helicopters." Master Sgt. Dave Henson was the only one stationed at the 185th in 2011 with helicopter experience and he was pulled off of his current duty and onto the flight line in 2011.
"I came to work one morning and Col. Christensen pulled me out of a meeting, told me 'you're my guy'. That's how much notice, so about 4 hours later, helicopters were landing," Master Sgt. Henson recalled.
"So I had to help crews get the aircraft ready in the morning, and we would line them up. They'd do sorties (combat missions) up along the river," he said describing what Siouxlanders were seeing in the air that summer. "Then we were doing hot refueling and maintenance on the aircraft."
The helicopters not only helped monitor the rising Missouri from the sky, but they also set sandbags to keep infrastructure safe.
"The helicopter has a long line slung underneath it, so they could just pull into a hover, hook up with sandbags and take them to wherever they needed to plug holes." Those sandbags weighed tons of pounds and helped a number of businesses and communities stay dry in 2011.
There were more than a dozen military helicopters flying in Siouxland that summer, and on the ground, mother nature was not making levee patrols easy.
"A lot of things that we battled, which was on the inside of the levees, on the opposite side of the river, was the thunderstorms that passed through," Master Sgt. Hanson said. "All of the sewers were plugged. You get that backwater and backpressure and manhole covers would go flying up. The city worked with us really well bringing down pumps to pump water out of the area and all of that. That was a lot of the battle, the thunderstorms."
"Part of our goal is statewide, so any crisis in the state, the governor tasks us to help out with," Master Sgt, Henson said on responding to a national crisis in his own backyard. "Plus, we have a national level where we still deploy overseas and things like that."
Now 10 years later, there are a few still stationed at the 185th who battled the Great Flood of 2011 and spent seven weeks working in the city they still call home.
SEE THE VIDEO
More than an hour of body camera footage from three Sioux City Police officers has been made public after a video of an arrest went viral on social media over the weekend.
We are accountable to the public and a big part of that accountability is the camera footage.The videos posted to Facebook showed a black man being confronted and eventually arrested by three officers with one displaying his taser. At no time was the taser or any weapon fired. This show of force, Sioux City Police Sergeant Jeremy McClure says, is called a de-escalation tactic.
"It's appropriate and obviously, we understand that people would be concerned about that and we understand those concerns and that's why it's important for us to explain this type of stuff and why we do what we do and for people to see the full context of what had occurred," he explained.
Complaints have been filed by the man arrested against officers involved in the incident and they are currently under review. McClure says the body camera footage, which the department redacted partially in the public release to keep private information confidential, will be used to help determine if any officer was in the wrong or if the department needs to make changes in policy.
"The body cameras play a huge part in anytime an officer uses a show of force or uses force or has a complaint against them because any contact we have with a citizen has to be recorded by policy," McClure said of the incident. "Again, we take these things very seriously and we try to train as best we can to overcome resistance with the least amount of force possible."
The social media videos only showed a portion of the incident and gained traction quickly, leading the department to release the footage from each officer's body cameras starting from the moment of response to booking at the jail.
"The public has a right to hold us accountable and ask questions. We expect that and welcome it," McClure said. "The body cameras play a huge part in that because, again, that shows more of the situation whereas a viral video clip may only pick up at a certain point or from a certain perspective. It may not tell the whole story."
Officers were not called to confront the man, instead being dispatched there to remove an intoxicated woman. But then the man confronted officers and things escalated. You can read more about the incident here.
"The initial impression is that the officers acted within policy but again, we will review it and see what we can do better," McClure continued.
We are always looking to improve and that is a commitment that we made to the community we serve and it's a commitment that our community deserves and so it's something that we dedicate ourselves to continually say, what can we do better.Last May, community members held peaceful protests outside the Law Enforcement Center following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. The protests were also raising public funds to help equip the department with body cameras which have now been done. Every member of the department is now equipt with a body camera.
"Part of the reason we got the cameras was accountability," McClure said. "If an officer is not following our policy and not living up to our values and the standards we have set, then we either want to change that behavior and fix that or do whatever we need to do to ensure that that officer is acting within our policy or let them go if need be."
Sgt. McClure says the department strives to be transparent and encourages the public to seek answers to any questions or concerns they have.
"It's the public's right to question what we are doing and we expect that and it's invaluable to ensure that you have a police force that you can trust. Especially with the concerns that were brought up over the last year with disproportionate minority contact and issues with social justice and bias policing.
"So, we strive to be an agency that's open, transparent, and better trained and try to prevent issues with explicit and implicit bias," he continued. "We want our community to trust us. We want to work with the members of our community to earn that trust. Trust isn't something that's just given, it's earned."
This incident, which took place last Thursday morning, April 29th, is still under review by the department. To read our full story or to watch the body camera footage for yourself, check out our story here.
SEE THE VIDEO
Web articles from my time at Siouxland News.