A Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper

A big news week


It was all hands on deck this week as the staffs of the Times Pilot and our sister publication, the Chronicle Times in Cherokee, worked to cover one of the biggest news events in our area’s history — the devastating flooding of Sioux Rapids, Linn Grove and Peterson in northern Buena Vista County, and neighboring Cherokee. All these communities had the same culprit in common — the Little Sioux River.

As the flooding reached historic proportions Sunday, our staff started taking notes, interviewing folks affected by the tragedy and photographing the devastation — including this old warhorse who headed out with camera in hand. Thanks to all of our hardworking and dedicated crew who crank out a great news product every day.

We were able to drive up to Sioux Rapids and Linn Grove Sunday morning, but Cherokee was inaccessible because the Little Sioux River flooded all the roads into town. Two of the Chronicle Times staffers who live in Quimby worked out of our office Monday and Tuesday because they couldn’t make it to the Chron’s world headquarters in Cherokee. Thankfully, Storm Lake was high and dry and they could make it here.

We increased the number of pages in the Times Pilot to accommodate the extra coverage and transmitted the pages electronically to our printing plant in Sheldon Tuesday. The papers were delivered on time to the post office here Tuesday afternoon.

We weren’t sure if the papers could be delivered Tuesday, since flooding delayed delivery of our Advertising Guide Monday. Normally our printer in Sheldon gets them to the post office here late Monday morning. This time they didn’t show until Monday evening. They didn’t make it at all to the Cherokee post office Monday because highways were still impassable but they eventually got delivered Tuesday.

Spencer, which sits above the banks of the Little Sioux, is used to manageable flooding about every other year in the lowlands along the river. This year was different. The river rose high enough to flood much of the community and it may take a while for them to recover as many businesses, in addition to homes, were heavily damaged. This was the worst disaster in Spencer’s history since the fireworks explosion on June 27, 1931, that burned down much of the downtown business district.

Sioux Rapids likewise has endured regular flooding over the years, and like Spencer the flooding has usually been contained along the low lying river bottom. This year was different. Historically different, as the Little Sioux raged into homes and businesses throughout town in this community’s worst disaster. With everyone in town pitching in and working together, they’ll be back. That’s why they call Sioux Rapids the “Valley of Beauty.”


JUNE 29 is the 34th anniversary of the founding of The Storm Lake Times, which two years ago bought the Pilot-Tribune to form the newspaper you’re reading today, the Times Pilot.

This week also kicks off our newly redesigned website, www.stormlake.com. It’s the most popular news website in Buena Vista County, attracting a quarter million impressions per month.

We are very happy with how the new website looks and how it allows us to present more news faster to our growing family of readers. Now, when something major happens, we can publish breaking news immediately, ahead of the print editions on Wednesday and Friday. This is already working as we hoped when our website Monday presented comprehensive coverage of Sunday’s flooding. Plus, we can get sports reports up right after the games end.

Right now the new website is open to all without charge, but in a couple of days only registered subscribers will be able to access all of the stories. Editorials and obituaries will continue to be free.

The website is open to all right now for a couple reasons. First, if there were any technical glitches, we didn’t want the paywall to complicate troubleshooting. Fortunately, we experienced no major problems. Second, we thought it was important to get the flooding news — and the assistance available for victims — to as many people as possible.

After the paywall is turned back on in a few days, online subscribers may be asked to provide a new password to enhance security. If you run into problems, give us a call at 712-732-4991 and we’ll help you out. But don’t ask for me — I have no idea how the website works. It’s all just wires and tubes to me.

Thanks for reading the Times Pilot, both in print and online! If you have any suggestions for how we can improve, please let us know.

Fillers, John Cullen


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