Idaho Governor “Butch” Otter met Wednesday with federal, state and local officials in Boise to get the latest information on disaster status and emergency preparedness for local flooding conditions –- conditions that experts say could likely continue throughout the summer.
In the Boise River Basin, officials say there’s a small chance Lucky Peak, Anderson Ranch and Arrow Rock reservoirs all could fill to capacity by the end of May. That likely would prompt increased flood-control releases down river -- and exceptionally high flows through the cities of Boise, Garden City and Eagle.
Meantime, the cost of flooding, landslides, avalanches and other weather-related damage throughout Idaho is growing by the day.
An initial damage assessment to local infrastructure in four northern Idaho counties is about $7 million, according to a release from Otter’s office. Estimates are up to $5 million so far in north-central Idaho and, in the Magic Valley and Mini-Cassia areas, the damage total is expected to be about $30 million, the release stated.
"Based on the initial damage assessments that we've done this year, we're up to approximately $62 million dollars worth of damage," said Gen. William Richy, deputy chief of the Idaho Office of Emergency Management.
Otter urged Idahoans to exercise caution and keep a close eye on the increasing risk of flooding along many of the state’s waterways -- from the Boise, Payette, Big Wood and Little Wood to the Bear and Upper Snake River basins.
“As I’ve traveled around the state in the past three months, I’ve seen firsthand the destruction caused by this unprecedented weather. Now the snow that, in some areas, is continuing to fall is turning into runoff that’s filling our rivers and reservoirs to overflowing, threatening people and property statewide,” Otter said. “Most of our counties have declared disasters, and we’re working to get assistance and relief deployed wherever it’s needed as quickly as possible.”
“I urge everyone to understand the dangers posed by floodwaters. Even when it looks shallow, the power of moving water can be deadly. Just six inches of water can overturn a large vehicle, and three inches can knock over an adult,” he said. “When you see signs that say ‘Don’t enter,’ it’s critically important that you take it seriously. Remember: ‘Turn Around -- Don’t Drown.’”
The latest information on Idaho’s mountain snowpack and local flood threats throughout the state is on the Idaho Department of Water Resources website.