BLAINE COUNTY, Idaho – A three-person team from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Walla Walla District Headquarters deployed today to provide technical assistance to Blaine County emergency managers as they respond to high flow conditions in the Snake River there, according to Corps emergency management officials at the District headquarters in Walla Walla, Washington.
The Corps’ experts in hydraulic and civil engineering will assist county emergency management staff by assessing flood risks to public infrastructure and facilities from potential record flooding along the Big Wood River in Blaine County. They will provide technical input to the county’s contingency planning and recommend protective measures.
The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office urges the public to avoid all flooded areas “for your safety and the safety of those living in these areas.” Official county notices and updates are available on their website https://www.blainesheriff.com/press-releases/ and on their Fabebook page https://www.facebook.com/BlaineCountySheriff/. County officials strongly encourage residents to register to receive the Code Red system emergency alerts -- visit http://blainecounty911.org/systems.asp and register through the “Blaine County Alert Notification System.”
Residents of flood-prone areas in Blaine County are also encouraged to stay 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. Follow flood-response instructions issued by your local emergency management agency, and tune-in to local radio and television news stations.
The Corps’ Walla Walla District continues to coordinate with state and local emergency management agencies.
Idaho Office of Emergency Management at https://ioem.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.
Corps water management officials continue coordinating with other federal and non-federal dam managers throughout the greater-Columbia River basin 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/.