Luke's Gulch Road

Lukes Gulch Road at Stites was closed Tuesday, April 9, due to flooding that rushed into the South Fork of the Clearwater River, already swollen up to its banks with spring runoff.

Flooding hit much of Idaho Tuesday, April 9, and in Idaho County, Stites bore the brunt as the creeks that drain into the South Fork Clearwater River could not keep up with days upon days of rain in addition to spring runoff, and flowed onto what is normally dry ground.

Spring runoff came to a head Tuesday morning, April 9, forcing Three Mile Creek to overflow its banks and flood across properties on North Mea…

The streamgage at Stites reported, preliminarily, a new record height.

After swelling to about 7 feet, 6 inches through midday Monday, April 8, the river flooded Monday evening and rose sharply overnight. Shortly before 7 a.m., the 1964 record of about 10 feet, 4 inches had fallen – and the river continued to rise.

Stites bears brunt of Tuesday’s flooding across county

The south entrance to Stites on State Highway 13 was blocked by flood waters on Tuesday morning, April 9.

The streamgage, managed by the U.S. Geological Survey, maxes out at 11 feet. It peaked at 10 feet, 9 inches shortly after 9 a.m.

Much of Stites went under water shortly after 5 a.m.

Military helicopters land in Stites

Military helicopters landed at Stites this morning, Tuesday, April 9, to assist in the medical airlift of an elderly woman suffering an unspecified health condition.

“My house is one of the worst ones,” Craig Schlieper, 114 Main Street, told the Free Press, shortly before noon April 9. “The creek that ran down Stites Grade backed up because the flow of the water couldn’t go into the main river. … I got about a foot-and-a-half of water running through my house, just like a regular river. All my belongings outside floated on down into other people’s yards. My wife’s milk cans. Flower yard arrangements. My four-wheeler is three-fourths under water. I have no flood insurance because I’m in the flood plain. So, it’s all a total loss. I know several in the same situation. It has subsided a little bit. I’d say it’s dropped maybe an inch or two. But now it’s pouring rain again, so I don’t know what tomorrow brings on. With the sewer backing up and the drains full, it’s a mess. I have my furniture on boards, as high as I could put them. I did lose dressers and that kind of thing. I couldn’t get them up. I had about 30 minutes this morning, because it came so fast, right up through the floor of my house. I heard Red Cross is putting up a place at the Life Center, doing an exchange for clothing and whatever people need.”

Flooding in Grangeville

Three Mile Creek overran its banks Tuesday morning, April 9, washing across and temporarily closing Grangeville’s Main Street at Rae Bros Sporting Goods.

Schlieper noted one house – Joann Henry’s – was mostly under water. He said the water in his yard was waist-deep and frigid, because the rain runoff had brought snowmelt down with it.

The water swamped three main roadways in and out of Stites. Highway 13 entries at the north and south ends of town were under water and the Lukes Gulch Road, which parallels the highway on the river’s opposite side was closed.

Clearwater Valley High School called off classes on Tuesday, Kamiah schools announced an early dismissal and various other organizations postponed events.

Flooding in North Meadow Street, Grangeville

Free Press reader shared her early Tuesday morning view of flood waters raging across her property on North Meadow Street in Grangeville.

“The police woke us up about 4:15 this morning to tell us to move our vehicles out of the driveway unless we wanted them washed away and to be prepared to evacuate! Exciting morning!” Koehler said.

Water crossed parts of U.S. Highway 12 – and so did earthen material, which blocked the road between Orofino and Kamiah. A landslide was also reported on State Highway 162, seven miles west of Kamiah, and water crossed Old State Highway 7 in multiple places. Those road closures were marked on the traveler information website, and impairments reported to the Free Press included closure of Lukes Gulch Road as well as partial blockages of the Stites Grade and Mt. Idaho Grade roads.

“It’s all life safety right now,” Idaho County Disaster Management Coordinator Jerry Zumalt told the Free Press midmorning on Monday. “There is a lot of damage occurring to state and local roads, private residents and other public and private property.”

More flooding in Grangeville

Free Press reader Dawn Koehler shared her early Tuesday morning view of flood waters raging across her property on North Meadow Street in Grangeville.

“So far, we are managing to not have water in the house nor to have to leave. The driveway is developing a big trench though, and I watched all of my vinca so carefully planted last year wash across the lawn, so there will be damage to fix when the water subsides.”

Damage reports were still pending at press time, but numerous yards and homes in Stites appeared flooded in photos posted on social network websites.

Flooding in Cottonwood

Spring runoff rages through Cottonwood this morning, Tuesday, April 9. Cottonwood Police Chief Terry Cochran noted, “Bags were three high to get above the water.”

Flooding wasn’t limited to the river valleys, as sandbagging was reported in Cottonwood and Grangeville, where creeks also rose sharply overnight. The Free Press received word of basements and fields being flooded. Sandbagging was seen in Grangeville, in spots along Meadow Street and Main Street due to the rise of Three Mile Creek, which crosses beneath the parking lot at Cash & Carry Marketplace. Water was over the road near the drive-in theater.

Cottonwood Creek sandbagging was prepared ahead of time and carried out after it hit flood stage at approximately 2:20 a.m., Cottonwood Police Chief Terry Cochran told the Free Press Tuesday.

About a tenth of an inch of rain had been received in Grangeville April 4, April 6 and April 7, and Idaho County Airport reported another three-quarters of an inch fell April 8.

Forecasts called for rain to continue, with another tenth-to-quarter inch anticipated Tuesday night and more possible Wednesday and Thursday.

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