Graves Creek

Damage along Graves Creek has included several places where rushing water undercut the road all the way to or past the centerline.

It remains unclear whether federal tax dollars may come to Idaho County as a consequence of flooding earlier this month, but some repairs are needed sooner than even state disaster relief funding may become available.

It’s not for lack of public money that some work has not already been carried out.

Wednesday morning at the Idaho County Courthouse, White Bird Highway District commissioner Joaquin Lowe told state and local emergency managers that five sites within a span of perhaps half a mile on Dairy Mountain Road need to be addressed immediately, before the heavier part of spring runoff comes down Skookumchuk Creek with potential to take out parts of the road.

“We just want to get in there and do it,” Lowe said of the needed work. “I’m wondering, can we jump in and do it?”

The road serves eight homes, Lowe said, but the work involves areas below the creek’s highwater mark, so a permit is required.

“We’re not looking at the money,” Lowe said. “We’re looking at the prevention. We can’t wait six months…chances are, we’re going to get a lot more high water than we just got.”

The Deer Creek Highway district reported damage to the Deer Creek Road to Pittsburg Landing, which has been hit by mudslides. State tax dollars may support repairing that road, but it would not be eligible for federal disaster relief funding even under a presidential declaration, because the road is already designated a federal aid route.

"The mudslides aren't the main issue," district clerk Julie Fowler told the Free Press Friday, April 19. "It is the road underneath that is slipping, making it unsafe and causing us to close the road at this time. We have been working with our engineer along with a hydrologist. ITD [Idaho Transportation Department] has also been on site to assess the issue."

Damage was also reported in three of the highway districts clerked by Joe Forsmann: Grangeville, Union and Keuterville. Several parts of the Keuterville district’s Graves Creek Road were undercut all the way to or past the centerline, and Forsmann said the shoulder was eaten in 15 spots, which have now been filled in. A bridge replacement on Union’s Long Haul Road is on hold as much of the old bridge’s gravel deck and approaches washed away. Forsmann also reported Powerline Road was damaged by the flooding.

If damage totals more than $2.4 million statewide, a federal disaster declaration could follow, Idaho Office of Emergency Management recovery coordinator Jarod Dick explained during the April 17 meeting with the highway districts. Idaho County Disaster Management Coordinator Jerry Zumalt said the county very quickly saw more than $61,000 in emergency response costs due to the April 9 flood – a number also potentially big enough to key a federal disaster declaration.

For the county road and bridge department, the previously reported damage at a Glenwood Road culvert site (1A, April 17) is likely to cost more than $1 million as by far the costliest problem seen so far.

The county is still tabulating road-related emergency costs, Zumalt told the Free Press, and road damage in the following locations is being evaluated: two Thorne Springs sites; Fort Misery Road; three Clear Creek Road sites; five other Glenwood Road sites; Leitch Creek Road; Cottonwood Creek Road; Big Cedar; three Sally Ann Road sites; Lukes Gulch Road; three Carrot Ridge Road sites; and a Village 21 culvert repair.

[Note: This article was updated April 19 to include additional information from Deer Creek Highway District clerk Julie Fowler and to correctly identify the road to Pittsburg Landing, which is Deer Creek Road. -ao]

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