While completing my first internship with The Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan, I had the opportunity to write an article about the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Rapid City flood, which devastated the South Dakota town, causing 238 deaths and injuring 3,057 people.
I spoke to a veteran National Guard member, who found himself caught in the middle of the flood and helped rescue victims and clean up the debris.
Curk Peterka told me his story of the first dead body he ever touched, the screams he heard throughout the night and the fears and terrors he faced for months following the disaster. His voice cracked, and his eyes filled with tears as he recalled the vivid nightmare he faced 40 years ago.
That’s when my dream to become a journalist was affirmed. I was given the opportunity to tell Peterka’s story, even if it was 40 years later. I felt the emotion in his voice as my pencil flew across my notepad, scribbling every word he uttered.