On Friday, the state added Gooding, Jefferson and Lincoln counties to the state disaster declaration due to flooding in south central and western Idaho.
The declaration, signed by Lt. Gov. Brad Little, provides necessary state resources to the counties that need help with response and recovery efforts. Cassia, Jerome, Minidoka, Twin Falls and Washington counties were already on the declaration.
The additions now put 18 of Idaho’s 44 counties on declarations for either state, county or city snow or flooding declarations.
Flooding in south central Idaho is expected to continue and could even worsen in the coming weeks as temperatures increase, causing additional snowmelt, according to the Idaho Office of Emergency Management.
Residents can also contact local health districts for additional information on well and septic tank safety – including how to test wells or septic tanks that may have been compromised.
“When you fly over the area as I did last Friday, or see the images that Idahoans are sharing, you get a real feel for just how widespread and catastrophic all this water can be,” said Little in a news release. “We are grateful that no one has lost their life as a direct result of this flooding, but the economic and personal toll is enormous. The communities in these areas will be dealing with the destruction for the foreseeable future and we will work to provide resources and assistance wherever we can.”
The Idaho Office of Emergency Management is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state agency partners to ensure that requests for assistance from the counties in danger are met.
“The safety of residents will always be our primary concern,” said Emergency Management’s Brad Richy in a news release. “The volume of water we’re dealing with in some areas is unprecedented. As water washes out or covers more roads throughout the region it’s important to remember that just 12 inches of water can wash away a vehicle. It’s just never worth the risk to try to cross these flooded roadways.”
In addition to the flooding dangers, residents with wells and septic tanks are encouraged to err on the side of caution. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality lists safety guidelines for drinking water at deq.idaho.gov
For residents in the south central Idaho area needing assistance to manage the emotional toll caused by the ongoing disaster, the Twin Falls Crisis Center Hotline is available at 866-737-1128.