GOODING — The Big Wood River continued to flood Tuesday and while areas of Blaine and Gooding counties have flooded, officials are predicting no flooding in Mini-Cassia from the Snake River.
“The water is going over the roads in a couple of places but it’s not like it was the last time,” Shaun Gough, Gooding County Sheriff said about The Big Wood River flooding. “It’s mostly in the fields.”
According to the gauges, Gough said, the water level appears to be receding.
“The damage is about the same as it was last time,” he said.
A flood warning is in effect for The Big Wood River at Hailey. Sundance Park is flooded, Zinc Spur subdivision was threatened as bank erosion increased, Deer Creek Road may be damaged, and Bellevue near Broadford Road was under threat along with Eagle Creek subdivision.
City leaders in Ketchum have asked residents and visitors to stay away from Warm Springs Creek and the Big Wood River and its tributaries because of a threat to public safety and health.
Last weekend, the city distributed 1,500 sandbags to residents battling rising floodwaters. Another 3,000 bags will be filled Wednesday and be available to residents.
The weekend’s flooding is a precursor to predicted flooding through mid-June, the city said.
Fire Chief Mike Elle encourages residents along the floodplain put together a kit that includes extra clothes, medicines, food and pet supplies.
“The important thing right now is for people to stay out of the water; just avoid it altogether because of the risk it poses to health and safety,” Elle said. “The river itself is extremely dangerous and unpredictable every time a tree falls into the current and is carried downstream, creating a potential hazard for roads, bridges and private property.”
The city’s Planning and Building Department expedited its permit process for making stream bank alterations during the next few weeks. Even a slight modification upstream can create bigger problems downstream, so residents should contact the city before making alterations. Call the department at 208-726-7801.
Despite water levels on the verge of spilling over the banks of the Snake River in some areas, officials say no flooding from the river is expected in Mini-Cassia.
“There are no predictions of flooding in Mini-Cassia,” said Corey Loveland, water operations manager for the Upper Snake Field Office of the Bureau of Reclamation in Heyburn.
Loveland said the bureau is “managing” the flows to prevent any flooding.
“We have been watching the snowpack this winter and making appropriate storage releases to prevent flooding,” he said.
Loveland said 21,000 cfs were being released Tuesday at Lake Walcott.
“That’s definitely above average,” he said.
The Bureau of Reclamation showed Lake Walcott at 91 percent full on Tuesday, American Falls at 97 percent, Milner at 68 percent, Palisades at 9 percent and Jackson Lake at 57 percent.
Cassia County undersheriff George Warrell said the sheriff’s office has not taken any reports of flooding from the river.
“I know the water level is pretty high right now,” Warrell said.
Warrell said all the roads in the county that were closed due to flooding in January and February are now open.
“But there are still a lot of roads with a lot of damage,” Warrell said.
All the roads closed by flooding in Minidoka County have been reopened, Minidoka County Sheriff Eric Snarr said.
“The roads are still being repaired, though,” Snarr said.
Much of the road repairs will hinge on state and federal funding, Warrell said.
In April President Donald Trump signed a flood disaster declaration covering 11 Idaho counties including Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls.
Damage to roads in those counties exceeds $30 million, according to state estimates.
The feds will pick up 75 percent of the eligible damage costs of public projects with local and state government picking up the tab for the rest.
The funding will not cover residential or business losses.
The Small Business Administration will also lend private nonprofits up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged real estate, machinery, equipment, inventory or other business assets and to help with the costs of improvements to protect, prevent future disaster caused damage from occurring.
For certain private nonprofit organizations the SBA offers economic injury disaster loans to meet working capital needs to pay fixed debts, payroll or accounts payable and other bills.
The interest rate on the loans is 2.5 percent with terms up to 30 years. The filing deadline is June 20. Apply online at sba.gov/loans-grants.
Warrell said a meeting with the Idaho Emergency Management Office is scheduled at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Cassia County Sheriff’s Office to explain the funding options and process for government agencies. A similar meeting is scheduled for Minidoka County at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Wilson Theatre.