Photo by David Rauzi
Sandbags were lined up along one side of Main Street in Cottonwood Sunday afternoon, April 8, in anticipation of possible flooding due to the weekend's rainstorm event.
As of Tuesday, April 10, 2018
“The county road infrastructure survived fine, at least as what we know at this point,” said Jerry Zumalt, coordinator for Idaho County Disaster Management. “I think, for the most part, we did alright.”
Wet and windy, but no major damage; that’s the overall summary from officials following last weekend’s storm event that generally brought up to an inch in precipitation across Idaho County with related water impacts to area streams and minor power outages and road blockages.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS) Office in Missoula, ponding and minor debris flows were reported, along with significant flow increases in area creeks and rivers but no flooding was noted.
Of those rivers monitored, the South Fork of the Clearwater at Stites reached a high of 6.3 feet at 4,870 cfs at 10:45 on Saturday, April 7. Flood stage is 8 feet. NWS 48-hour observations reported Sunday showed a precipitation high of 1.26 inches at Moose Creek, 1.16 inches at Syringa, 1.12 inches at Lowell and .80 northwest of Kamiah. Elk City reported .59, Grangeville at .53, stations each three miles south of Cottonwood and Ferdinand at .37 and .35, respectively.
Plugged culverts were common, and Zumalt reported the county road department had crews working through the weekend to keep those cleared.
“I don’t think our unrepaired sites have suffered any more damage,” he said. “It doesn’t appear they have at this point.”
The Idaho Transportation Department dealt with a debris flow of water, mud and rock on State Highway 13 between Sally Ann and Stites near milepost 16, which threatened a nearby residence. According to ITD, the property owner redirected the stream, and state crews removed debris. U.S. Highway 12 was blocked near milepost 58 for a few hours Saturday due to a tree in the road. Some regional rock and mudslides were reported but did not result in closures.
“Storms like this are typical during this time of year,” said Megan Sausser, ITD public information specialist, “so we urge drivers to be on the lookout for debris in the roadway while driving during and after storm events.”
“It sounds like the work of a microburst again,” reported Max Beach, manager for Idaho County Light and Power Cooperative, which suffered trees in lines around Kamiah the Middle Fork and the Selway. “One of the trees was broken off 30 feet above the ground, and we lost a pole up the Selway after trees began uprooting and falling over.”
In Cottonwood at 3 p.m. Saturday, the creek was within 4 to 6 inches of going over the top on Front Street, according to Police Chief Terry Cochran. With the rain continuing, and Sunday predicting another 2-3 inches, the city requested assistance from North Idaho Correctional Institution, which sent nine people who placed sandbags down Main Street. City crews placed concrete barriers at Front and Lewiston streets. A half-trailer of sandbags was parked on Main Street, and the NICI crew filled another trailer load, both for reserve.
“Lots of work and preparation put in place … then it didn’t rain,” Cochran said. “There were no flooding problems, but we were set up had it happened.”
“I’m kind of surprised we didn’t get more, though it was certainly plenty,” Zumalt said of the weekend’s rain, much of which came in as NWS Missoula forecasted.
Among the private property damage incidents reported included to the Glenwood Schoolhouse. Tom Meisner reported on Facebook high winds blew down a rotten tree, which took out a section of corrugated roofing. Volunteers cleared the mess and applied a temporary roof patch.
“The schoolhouse is 108 years old,” he wrote, “and survived this pretty well considering.”