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On the night of June 9, 1972, a massive thunderstorm unleashed torrential rains over Rapid City and the central Black Hills. Swelling Rapid Creek far beyond its normal channel, the raging waters destroyed homes and businesses, swept through a nursing home, and caused severe damage to the city’s main water plant. By the time the dead were accounted for, 238 people had perished and five others were never found. Barnett spent the night of the flood helping rescuers. The next morning, he and other civic leaders began the process of recovery and rebuilding. 

The pictures will rotate automatically, please sit back and enjoy the gallery. Some of the pictures have been viewed by the public during the past 50 years

Steve Flanery, board member, Black Hills Community Foundation and Hanson-Larson Memorial Park.

“Destiny converged on Rapid City with the catastrophic flood of June 9, 1972 that took the lives of 238 of our neighbors. It was our good fortune that our destiny included a very strong city council, devoted and skilled governmental department leaders, and a strong form of municipal administration. Thorns and Roses is Don Barnett’s very poignant story of his election as mayor, his battle to win voter approval of a fair method of taxation for a new civic center, and the disastrous events of the flood of 1972. It has been said that “Teamwork is that special quality which helps us look at life from the standpoint of what we can do to help. And leadership is that special quality which enables people to stand up and pull the rest of us over the horizon.” Today our future is bright because of the leadership, actions, and vision of city leaders in the early 1970s.”

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