Minidoka flood

Residents listen to Minidoka County and state officials talk about flooding in the county Wednesday at Minico High School.

LAURIE WELCH, TIMES-NEWS

RUPERT —Minidoka County has received only nine flood damage reports from residents, but the amount of flood-damage assistance residents and businesses receive depends on people filling out damage forms.

“I know there are a lot more than that out there,” said Kim Vega, Minidoka County emergency management coordinator.

Local officials are asking that everyone with flood damage report it.

“Even if you had damage and fixed it, you may have a neighbor down the road that may have been wiped out.” Vega said. “By filling out that form, you can help your neighbor who may not be able to fix their damage.”

Minidoka County and state officials held a community meeting Wednesday at Minico High School to update the public on floodwater and answer questions.

County and state officials want to apply for a federal disaster declaration for the county.

Individual and business damage forms must be turned in to the county by Tuesday.

Gary Davis, with the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, said the state will help with 50 percent of infrastructure damage under the state disaster declaration, but will not assist individuals or businesses.

If the county receives a federal declaration, it will help with 75 percent of losses for public facilities.

Under the federal declaration, Vega said, a team will come in to assess the damage and then determine what programs will be available.

“There are some programs available for individuals, but we won’t know how much help people will get until they come and assess the damages,” Vega said.

Assistance for individuals will “be a harder nut to crack,” Davis said during the meeting, and how much help will be available is still unknown.

The programs will never make anybody whole again, although there may be some Small Business Administration loans available for businesses and individuals, he said.

Other cleanup and rebuild resources may come from private sources like the Southern Baptists, who have a program to help clean up flood damage, and the Mennonites who help rebuild after disasters.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Travis Wyatt said snowpack in the area is not reaching 1997 levels but there is still 1 to 5 inches of snow left to melt on the northern end of the county.

He said the spring forecast shows “a small chance” of Snake River flooding between Burley and Rupert.

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Jesse Miller, manager of the Minidoka County Highway District, said the district has 635 miles of roads and at one time one-third of them were closed because of damage. Some wash-outs were four to five feet deep. Cost estimates for county highways stand at around $2 million.

In one spot west of Heyburn, water ran across the road and undercut the asphalt leaving nothing underneath.

Cost estimates could go a lot higher, he said.

In some areas the roads are completely gone, Miller said.

School buses are still not running on gravel roads because “they are the safest on asphalt,” he said.

“Some people still have to detour 10 to 15 miles to get home,” Miller said.

Commissioner Sheryl Koyle said future flood mitigation will be a topic of discussion for the county later on but right now they are still in response mode and dealing with the damages from this flood.

Miller said the highway district is making repairs as quickly as possible but many roads are still too soft to bear the weight of heavy equipment.

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