Payette and Washington counties and the Idaho Office of Emergency Management have called in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help assess flooding risks and ways to avoid them in areas along the Snake River.
The Corps will focus on low-lying areas along the river, including areas of concern in Weiser, Payette and Fruitland, according to notices Friday from the state emergency management agency and Payette County.
Officials are also worried about sections of Interstate 84, U.S. 95 and Idaho 52.
Payette residents got a scare earlier this month when an ice jam and melting snow significantly raised river levels. The jam later shifted downstream, but river levels have again climbed — though they are not back at the same peak documented the week of Jan. 9, county officials said.
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North of Payette in Washington County, Disaster Services Coordinator Steve Domby said crews are fully occupied by staggering snow loads and collapsing roofs, and the ice jam is not a primary concern.
“I talked with the Corps of Engineers and said Washington County is fine with the flooding part now," Domby said Friday as he headed out to check out another roof collapse.
With 12 to 18 inches of wet, heavy new snow atop a couple of feet of existing snow, the county has lost around 100 buildings to the snow, he said, including the local bowling alley and, on Thursday, the town’s only grocery store, Ridley’s.
Flooding will be a concern, he said, especially as snow melts around residences and businesses.
Both counties are among those in Idaho that declared disasters due to the recent winter storms.
Payette County residents can pick up sand to use to fill sandbags at 640 S. Main in Payette. Officials say residents must, however, provide their own sandbags, and be prepared to fill them themselves.
Washington County residents can get bags and fill them with sand at the Boyer Building on Commercial Street, Domby said.