HAILEY — The Big Wood River could reach record levels by next week as floodwater continues to rise.
“We’ve been very fortunate. The force of the river is going to the other side,” said Diana Whiting, who lives just outside of Hailey along the east bank of the river. “But there are a lot of people who aren’t so lucky.”
Hardest hit are homeowners in the Della View area, where the river continues to knock at their doors. Forty homes downstream from Whiting are still under a weeks-long evacuation order, said Carol Brown, spokeswoman for the city of Hailey.
“It’s so hard to be in a constant flood fight,” Brown said Thursday. “They are fighting to save their homes.”
Nineteen of the homes are without power, said Chief Deputy Will Fruehling with the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office.
“The river level is projected to go up to 7.88 in the early morning hours (on Friday),” Fruehling said. “We are urging residents to stay away from the river.”
Recent flood waters have changed the course of the river, pushing water places it normally wouldn’t go. What comes next is uncertain.
“The river is behaving in a different way now,” Fruehling said.
The Big Wood River peaked on May 7 at a level of 7.9 feet, approaching 1983’s record of 7.93 feet. Lower temperatures slowed the pace of the flooding several weeks ago, but recent warm weather has the river rising again.
A lot of moisture is still clinging to the mountains. Galena Summit has about half of its snow water equivalent left to melt.
“The National Weather Service is reporting a high risk of flooding for the first two weeks of June,” Fruehling said. “The National Weather Service is reporting a high risk of flooding for the first two weeks of June.”