Log jams contributing to flooding in Blaine County, cleared on a case-by-case basis

Posted at 6:18 PM, May 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-14 20:46:38-04

One day after Governor Butch Otter visited with residents in Blaine County, water levels along the Big Wood River dipped below flood stage for the first time in more than a week.

Sunday at noon, river levels in Hailey were measured at 5.89 feet. Flood stage begins at 6 feet.

Residents are still dealing with flood-like conditions in many low-lying areas along the banks of rivers and nearby creeks.

Nearly 60 homes in Hailey and Ketchum remain under mandatory evacuations.

One factor adding to the flooding is fallen trees clogging up waterways, especially under bridges.  Authorities in Blaine County say they're treating log jams on a case-by-case basis and only removing them when it's safe.

"There is 30-40 foot cottonwoods flowing down there, just giant torpedoes, so another big reason to stay out of the water, even if you're a kayaker or paddle boarder, is because there are giant logs flowing there and you never know when you might hit one,"  Blaine County Disaster Service Coordinator Chris Corwin said.

Blaine County officials say peak river flows for the Big Wood River are typically in late May or early June, so residents are told to expect flood-like conditions for the next month.