JACKSON, Wyo. – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, personnel began emergency repairs on two sections of the Jackson Hole Levee Project, a system of many levee sections that provide flood-risk management benefits to communities along the upper Snake River near Jackson, Wyoming.
Seasonal snowmelt and rain have caused high flows in the upper Snake River, scouring protective rock from the river side of the Taylor Creek 3 Levee near Fall Creek Road and the 95 Ranch Number 1 Levee upstream of Jackson, Wyoming. Both levees are located in Teton County.
Last week, District staff visited several flood-threatened areas of the upper Snake River Basin, including the Taylor Creek and 95 Ranch levees, to assess the situation. The Taylor Creek 3 Levee has experienced significant loss of protective rock (large rip-rap) due to a direct impingement – when the force of the river’s current runs directly toward and into the riverbank instead of running parallel to it. Further upstream, the river has outflanked the 95 Ranch Number 1 Levee and is beginning to over-top one part of the structure. Emergency repair work was recommended to repair and prevent further damage to both levee structures from river flows that are expected to reach peak levels within the next 5-10 days, according to National Weather Service forecasts.
Westwood Curtis Construction Inc. from Jackson, Wyo., was awarded a contract to perform emergency work to repair the Taylor Creek 3 Levee; and Ridgeline Excavation Inc., also from Jackson, was awarded a contract to perform emergency work to repair the 95 Ranch Number 1 Levee.
Residents of flood-prone areas are encouraged to keep informed of changing river and weather conditions on the National Weather Service website at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/forecasts.php – which includes flows 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. During the week of May 8, the Corps prepositioned more than 50,000 sand bags in Idaho’s Payette and Gem Counties, as well as the City of Horseshoe Bend. Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security, and county and city emergency management agencies in both Idaho and Wyoming are taking additional precautions.
Emergency management officials in Teton County encourage 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. Teton County’s website offers an alert system that will send emergency notices by text or email to residents’ electronic communication devices – sign up for free at http://www.tetonwyo.org/AgencyHome.asp?dept_id=em.
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.
Corps water management officials continue coordinating with other federal and non-federal dam managers 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 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 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 www.nww.usace.army.mil/html/offices/op/em/flodasst.htm or call (509) 527-7145.