Disaster declaration issued for Bingham, Jefferson counties
Because of flooding conditions in eastern Idaho, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has declared a State Declaration of Emergency in support of in Bingham and Jefferson counties. The state declaration, approved by the governor Wednesday (May 25) , brings the availability of state support to the impacted areas.
Bingham County has been operating under a local declaration of emergency since April 26 and has been preparing for flooding conditions for some time. The flooding conditions are a result of the abnormally high levels of snowpack which are melting and causing the Snake River to rise above flood stage. With warmer temperatures expected, the Snake River near Shelley is forecast to rise above major flood stage by the end of the week.
Bingham County has requested state assistance in removing debris from the river. The debris is eroding riverbanks and backing up against bridges, causing concern that it could alter the flow of the river or cause damage to bridges.
A US Army Corps of Engineers flood team is also deploying to Bingham County for technical, material and direct assistance. The team will help plan and prioritize flood response operations by the county. The Corps will also be delivering 100,000 sandbags to the county for use in flood fight operations.
Jefferson County now has minor flooding conditions; however those waters are expected to rise. The county has been taking steps to protect property and is working to prevent the Snake River from impacting private and public infrastructure. The state has declared on their behalf to help the county deal with late runoff flows that may exceed 35,000 cubic feet per second on the Upper Snake River. The Army Corps of Engineers is deploying two flood preparation technicians to the county to assist in planning and response efforts. In addition the Corps is sending a large capacity pump to Jefferson County for use in the response.
The Idaho Emergency Operations Center, housed at the Bureau of Homeland Security (BHS), has activated to level one to support requests for assistance from the impacted counties. BHS Area Field Officers are on the ground to support damage assessments and to coordinate the state efforts. As flooding conditions are predicted in other parts of the state as well, BHS Area Field Officers continue to monitor conditions should additional counties request state assistance.
The amount of snow in Idaho’s mountains remains above average, with snowpack measures reaching record levels in some areas. The late onset of warm weather has delayed the melting of the snowpack which has increased the likelihood of additional flooding. Local and state emergency managers across Idaho will continue to monitor conditions and are making preparations for further flooding.
The Disaster Declaration, approved by the governor, gives the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security (BHS) authority to assign missions to State of Idaho departments and agencies. The bureau will work closely with the county to determine the best methods and sources for handling the emergency.
“Bingham and Jefferson counties have been preparing for these flooding conditions for some time and I applaud their efforts,” said BHS Director Brigadier General Bill Shawver. “All of us within emergency management are keeping a close watch on weather patterns and water levels. We will stand side by side with Bingham and Jefferson counties in their response efforts and will be closely monitoring conditions in other counties as well.”