Corps experts deploy to flood-threatened areas; Corps stands ready to assist communities

Published May 20, 2011

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – In anticipation of increased snowmelt and inflows as the annual spring thaw continues, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla District deployed technical experts to four Idaho locations in the upper Snake River Basin to meet with local emergency management officials and get a first-hand look at the current water-management situation there.

During the week of May 16, Corps experts in engineering, hydrology and emergency management visited Idaho Falls on the upper Snake River, Ririe Dam on Willow Creek a tributary in the upper Snake River Basin, the City of Blackfoot near the confluence of the Snake and Blackfoot rivers, and the Jackson Hole Levee System on the upper Snake River near the Idaho-Wyoming border. 

The National Weather Service reports river flows have reached near-, at- or above-flood stage on several rivers within the Snake River Basin. Minor and moderate flooding throughout Upper Snake River Basin is expected to continue over the weekend, with precipitation amounts forecasted to be less than one-quarter inch in most areas of Idaho. Streams and rivers are anticipated to continue rising as spring weather moves in the region and melting snowpack increases inflows.

Residents of flood-prone areas are encouraged to keep informed of changing river and weather conditions on the National Weather Service website at – which includes flows data, weather forecasts and flood alerts – and by tuning in to local radio and television news stations.

Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security encourages Idaho residents to be prepared to respond to localized flooding – keep city and county emergency management telephone numbers handy and become familiar with local emergency management flooding-evacuation plans for your area. 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

Early forecasts indicate that this will be one of the top five years on record. Snake River Basin water volumes are forecasted to be similar to 1997.

The Walla Walla District continues to coordinate with state and local emergency management agencies. During the week of May 8, Corps prepositioned more than 50,000 sand bags in Payette and Gem Counties, as well as the City of Horseshoe Bend. Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security, and county and city emergency management agencies are taking additional precautions.

Corps water management officials are coordinating with other federal and non-federal dam managers to make adjustments in river system operations that will best accommodate the increased 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 changes to flows are necessary.

Lt. Col. David Caldwell, Walla Walla District commander, said the organization will continue to carefully watch the evolving situation and respond, when requested, with whatever assistance is authorized, appropriate and available.

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 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.

Walla Walla District emergency management officials are prepared to assist states and municipalities with flood-management support, if requested, said Jeff Stidham, Walla Walla District emergency management specialist. 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 stayed 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 and local 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 or call (509) 527-7145.



Public Affairs

Release no. 11-57