17-013 Corps sends flood-fight specialists to support Idaho’s Cassia County; 100,000 sandbags sent to support flood-fighting efforts -- more requested

Published Feb. 14, 2017
CASSIA COUNTY, Idaho – Two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood-fight specialists from the Walla Walla District deployed today to provide technical assistance to Cassia County emergency managers as they responds to flooding conditions there.

Curtis Been, a civil engineer at the District Headquarters in Walla Walla, Washington (hometown = Pendleton, Oregon); along with Russ Lodge, an hydraulics engineer at the District’s Boise Office (hometown = Boise, Idaho), met with Cassia County and state emergency management officials by telephone, and will travel to Cassia County to visit areas of concern along the Oakley Dam canal system (Goose Creek) to provide technical assistance in support of local flood response operations. Been and Lodge will perform site assessments, review available technical information, coordinate reach-back support with Walla Walla District headquarters departments for GIS and modeling needs, identify at-risk areas and develop options for the county to mitigate potential flood risks.

Oakley Dam is operated by the Oakley Canal Company and the Goose Creek Flood District. Working with Cassia County officials, they coordinated with Idaho’s Office of Emergency Management to request assistance from the Corps of Engineers. More information about Cassia County’s emergency management operations is available on their website http://www.cassiacounty.org/emergency-flooding/index.htm.

Residents of flood-prone areas in and near Cassia County are encouraged to keep informed of changing river, stream and weather conditions on the National Weather Service - Pocatello Office website at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/pih/ – which offers flow data, weather forecasts and flood alerts – and by tuning in to local radio and television news stations.

The Corps’ Walla Walla District continues to coordinate with state and local emergency management agencies. In response to official requests for assistance, the Corps recently provided 100,000 sandbags which were delivered to Minidoka County, for distribution to flood-affected counties in the nearby area. The Corps has requested an additional supply of 300,000 sandbags, upon approval, for shipment to the Jerome National Guard Armory.

Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security http://www.bhs.idaho.gov encourages Idaho residents to be prepared to respond to localized flooding. Individuals are encouraged to contact local emergency management agencies to ensure they understand how to receive updates and information specific to their location. Most county emergency management departments in Idaho have flood-preparedness information on their websites. Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security has an alert system that, based on zip code, will send alerts to whatever device residents choose – sign up at https://mystateusa.com/default.aspx?region=670.

Corps water management officials continue coordinating with other federal and non-federal dam managers throughout the Snake and Columbia river basins to make adjustments in river system operations that will best accommodate the increased run-off inflows. Reservoirs are being drafted ahead of anticipated heavy spring runoff. The Corps works closely with other agencies and local government entities to notify the public as early as possible when significant changes to flows are necessary.

The Corps is authorized to work with states, counties and other public entities to provide necessary resources and information. The Corps does not have authority to provide disaster assistance directly to individuals. The organization will continue to carefully watch the evolving situation and respond, when requested, with whatever assistance is authorized, appropriate and available.

The first responsibility for protecting homes and property from flood damage rests with the individual. Local governments and agencies, such as flood control districts, may share in this responsibility, and together form a community's first line of defense in preventing flood damages.

Occasionally, however, local resources are not able to control or contain a flood emergency situation. The Corps’ flood disaster assistance program is intended to supplement and assist local governments, institutions and special-purpose districts when more help is needed.

The Walla Walla District is prepared to assist states and municipalities with flood-management support, if requested, said Jeff Stidham, Walla Walla District disaster response manager. That assistance could include technical expertise, supplies and materials, equipment or contracts for emergency flood-fighting work.

“We're watching rivers and streams throughout the Walla Walla District and staying in touch with local emergency officials so, if requested to, we can plan, prepare or act,” said Stidham. “Our top priority is the public’s safety, so we’re encouraging folks in low-lying parts of flood-prone areas stay tuned to information and advisories provided by the National Weather Service or their local emergency-service agencies and be ready to take action according to local flood response plans.”

State, tribal, and county agencies needing disaster assistance from the Corps should contact the Walla Walla District Emergency Management Office at 509-527-7146, or 509-380-4538.

For more information about Emergency Management Assistance, check out the District’s Web site at http://www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Flood-Assistance/.


Public Affairs Office

Release no. 17-013