UPPER SNAKE RIVER, Idaho – Although upper Snake River flood waters may appear to be receding over the past few days, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hydrologists at the Walla Walla District warn residents there is still plenty of snow up in the mountains yet to melt.
“Now is not the time to become complacent about flood risk -- it’s not over, yet,” said Steve Hall, a hydrologist in the Walla Walla District’s Reservoir Regulation and Hydrology Section. “The snowpack is still really high in the upper basin. There’s a lot more water volume headed for the rivers in the next few weeks.”
Most high-elevation SNOTEL gauge stations are showing at least 10 inches more water than previously recorded maximums for this time of year, according to the National Resource Conservation Service snow survey data.
Hall added that the National Weather Service, which provides data on snowpack levels and forecasts weather and water volumes, issued a flood advisory today for multiple counties in the upper Snake River area in anticipation of future rain showers http://forecast.weather.gov/showsigwx.php?warnzone=IDZ021&warncounty=IDC011&firewxzone=IDZ410&local_place1=2+Miles+E+Blackfoot+ID&product1=Flood+Advisory. 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.
Since the first week of May, the Corps has deployed a total of 18 trained flood-response specialists and delivered a total of 602,000 sandbags to counties and cities in the upper Snake River areas of Idaho and Wyoming. The Corps has also provided three Crisafulli pumps, a PTO-powered 'trailer pump', to support flood-fight efforts in Jefferson County, and one additional pump to help Bear Lake County flood-fighters. The Corps also provided 50 rolls of plastic sheeting to Jefferson County and 35 rolls to Bingham County to help protect flood structures from being washed away by flood-level river flows.
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/alertSignup.aspx?region=670.
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 NWS’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service website for the Pocatello Weather Forecast Office http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=pih provides links to weather warnings, forecasts and river flow information for locations in Southeastern Idaho. Residents of flood-prone areas are encouraged to keep informed of changing river and weather conditions on the National Weather Service website and by tuning in to local radio and television news stations.
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.”
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.
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.
For Corps updates and photos of flood-fight efforts in Idaho and Wyoming, visit our Facebook site www.facebook.com/WallaWallaUSACE.