Blaine county road closure

A MACK truck traverses a water logged road Monday, April 3, 2017, south of Bellevue.

DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS

WASHINGTON — Blaine, Camas and Gooding counties are eligible for federal aid to help repair damage due to flooding this spring.

President Donald Trump approved the disaster declaration covering the three counties, plus Elmore and Custer counties, on Sunday. Help is available for damages sustained by local governments and some nonprofits and caused by flooding, mudslides and landslides from May 6 to June 16. The federal money can cover 75 percent or more of the cost of repairing roads, bridges, buildings or other infrastructure owned by affected government agencies or certain nonprofits engaged in community services activities, according to a statement from the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

It can also cover 75 percent or more of the cost of debris removal and emergency protective measures and of hazard mitigation programs that will reduce disaster risk in the future.

The Big Wood River spilled over its banks as it rained and snowed melted this spring, with some of the worst effects in Hailey, where some streets near the river had to be evacuated for an extended period. One man died — Mike Wirth, who drowned in Ketchum after getting trapped in a flooded basement.

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The spring’s flooding came after heavy snow and winter flooding that also wreaked havoc through much of the Magic Valley. Local governments in 11 Idaho counties, including Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls, are also eligible for federal help to repair some of the infrastructure damage sustained this winter.

As well as the federal money that is available for some repairs, state Legislature has also approved $50 million this year to help local governments and highway districts pay for road damage incurred as a result of the winter’s harsh weather. The state has awarded $42.36 million of this. Almost a third of that went to projects in the eight counties of south-central Idaho, with the biggest beneficiary between the City of Twin Falls, which is receiving $4.8 million for various projects, according to numbers provided by the Idaho Office of Emergency Management. The Raft River Highway District, which like the rest of Mini-Cassia suffered from major flooding in February, is getting $2.74 million in state funds, and Blaine County is next with almost $2.3 million in funding approved for seven projects.

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