Last week President Trump approved major disaster declarations for Washington, Utah and Idaho after flooding and severe winter storms in February this year.
The declaration means that disaster assistance will be made available to the State of Washington in areas affected by severe winter storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides from January 30 to February 22, 2017.
Affected areas included Adams, Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Grant, Lewis, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Spokane, Wahkiakum, Walla Walla and Whatcom counties.
Federal funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by severe winter storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides.
Likewise in the State of Utah disaster assistance will be available after severe winter storms and flooding in Box Elder and Cache counties from February 7 to February 27, 2017.
On 21 April 2017, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the State of Idaho to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe winter storms and flooding from February 5 to February 27, 2017 in the counties of Bingham, Cassia, Elmore, Franklin, Gooding, Jefferson, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, Twin Falls, and Washington counties.
Continued Flood Threat in Idaho
Meanwhile, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter last week urged Idahoans to exercise increased caution and keep a close eye on the increasing risk of flooding along many of the state’s waterways – from the Boise, Payette, Big Wood and Little Wood to the Bear and Upper Snake river basins.
The latest information on Idaho’s mountain snowpack and local flood threats throughout the state is on the Idaho Department of Water Resources website.
“As I’ve traveled around the state in the past three months, I’ve seen firsthand the destruction caused by this unprecedented weather. Now the snow that in some areas is continuing to fall is turning into runoff that’s filling our rivers and reservoirs to overflowing, threatening people and property statewide,” Governor Otter said. “Most of our counties have declared disasters, and we’re working to get assistance and relief deployed wherever it’s needed as quickly as possible.”
The Governor met with federal, state and local officials in Boise today to get the latest information on disaster status and emergency preparedness for local flooding conditions that could continue throughout the summer. That includes raising public awareness about the importance of safety for citizens and first responders.
“I urge everyone to understand the dangers posed by floodwaters. Even when it looks shallow, the power of moving water can be deadly. Just six inches of water can overturn a large vehicle, and three inches can knock over an adult,” he said. “When you see signs that say ‘Don’t enter,’ it’s critically important that you take it seriously. Remember: ‘Turn Around – Don’t Drown.’”
In the Boise River Basin, there is a small chance that Lucky Peak, Anderson Ranch and Arrow Rock reservoirs all could fill to capacity by the end of May. That likely would prompt increased flood-control releases downriver and exceptionally high flows through the cities of Boise, Garden City and Eagle.
Growing Costs of Flood Damages
Meantime, the cost of flooding, landslides, avalanches and other weather-related damage throughout Idaho is growing by the day, according to the Governor.
An initial damage assessment to local infrastructure in four northern Idaho counties is about $7 million. Estimates are up to $5 million so far in north-central Idaho, and in the Magic Valley and Mini-Cassia areas the damage total is expected to be about $30 million.