AILEY, Idaho – A two-person team from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Walla Walla District Headquarters is providing technical assistance to emergency managers in Hailey, Idaho, as they respond to flooding conditions 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 Blaine County and City of Hailey emergency management staff by assessing assess current river conditions, and identify options for city officials to address immediate and short term flooding issues. The Corps team will identify feasible options to dewater designated areas for life and safety purposes, and identify temporary measures within the Corps’ disaster-assistance authorities that may be feasible for 2018.
The City of Hailey has experienced flooding from the Big Wood River since May 6, 2017. Flows have recently fallen just below flood stage due to weather conditions, according to a June 14 post on the City’s “Hailey City Flood Update 2017” Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/haileycityflood/. The stream gage located at the Bullion Street Bridge read a river stage (height) of 5.52 feet this morning; flood stage is 6 feet. The high flows are caused by run-off from an unusually deep snowpack, and are anticipated to persist into July. Some homes and businesses within the city and county were evacuated because of the flooding.
The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office urges the public to avoid all flooded areas. Official county notices and updates are available on their website https://www.blainesheriff.com/press-releases/ and on their Facebook 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/.