Flood damage likely to be worse than '06
|July 4, 2012|
For a little over three weeks, Boundary County
Emergency Management Incident Commander Bob
Graham has been out leading the response to the
Flood of 2012, quite a bit longer, he said than
was necessary in our last flood year six years
That increased duration, he fears, is causing considerably more damage than what was experienced in 2006, when damages neared $2-million, mostly from crop loss and dike damage.
"We had problems in '06," he said, "and the river was above flood stage for a considerably shorter time before it dropped back down. This year, the Corps keeps saying the water's going to go down soon, but so far we haven't seen that, and the longer the river is high, the worse it gets."
As a result, both the City of Bonners Ferry and Boundary County Commissioners declared disasters early on, and on Tuesday, Idaho Governor Butch Otter verbally declared a state disaster for Boundary County.
The most visible location hit by rising water, as it is in most flood years, are the city dikes behind the Kootenai River Inn, where several volunteers joined experts in shoring up 500-feet of levy with with 300 "supersack" sandbags and scores of regular sandbags.
"The forecasts say the water will be going down next week, but they've been saying that for almost a month now," Graham said.
Another area hard hit is in District 4 between Copeland and Porthill, where the dike was overtopped and fields were flooded from Canyon Creek to Smith Creek and fro the river to the Westside Road.
Graham has been joined by two Army Corps response teams, who are working hand-in-hand with the county and the state to mitigate damage.
Work is expected to get underway on Thursday to armor dikes on the south end of the district, where damage is the worst.
"We're seeing a lot of dike damage," Graham said. "Because the water is staying high so long, we're seeing a lot of sloughing, and if it keeps up, we could start seeing some breaching. In quite a few places there's not much left to hold back the water."
Graham said crop loss from this flood is likely to dwarf what was experienced in 2006, again because of the length of time the river's been held above flood stage.
"We're seeing surface water from river seepage in almost all the districts," he said. "In 2006, the river elevation went to 66.5 feet, which is 2 1/2 feet above flood stage and where we're at right now, but in '06 the river dropped back below flood stage in a little over a week. It's been over three weeks this time, and despite the forecasts, I'm not too sure it's going to be dropping anytime soon."
Seepage has encroached into the city as well, with a considerable amount of water flooding below-ground storage areas at General Feed and Grain, destroying a considerable quantity of oats and preventing the mill from using many of their augers.
Graham, one Corps response team and several city officials spent part of Monday assessing that damage.
"2006 was pretty bad as far as damages went," Graham said. "This year will be worse."