Gov. Butch Otter signed a disaster declaration for Washington County Monday that will immediately help the city of Weiser clear its critically snow-clogged main streets and assess buildings whose roofs may be at risk of collapse from the weight of the snow.
“The snow is stacking up,” said Otter, who met with city officials and attended an emergency meeting in Weiser Sunday. “There’s a lot of normal life not going on in Weiser and we need to do all we can to help them get back to normal.”
The governor said the declaration would free up $65,000 that Weiser officials estimate it will cost to truck the snow out of the city. The snow is too high to just be plowed.
One of the area’s state representatives, Judy Boyle, who lives in Midvale, said: “We’re prepared for snow up there. Weiser isn’t, for that kind of snow.”
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Heavy snow last week caused the roof of Weiser’s only grocery store to collapse.
Otter said structural engineers are being dispatched to assess other buildings, including schools.
“There’s a lot of roofs getting ready to cave in that haven’t already,” said Rep Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth, whose district includes Weiser.
Eight counties this winter have declared snow-related disasters due to severe weather or flooding: Ada, Canyon, Cassia, Custer, Gem, Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties.
The state Office of Emergency Management also notes in its situation report the presence of ice jams on the Salmon, Lemhi, Snake, Big Lost and Big Wood rivers and tributaries and cautions that streets and small streams could flood as snows melt.