Gary Jordan stepped out of his shop south of Jerome Thursday just as the ground shook.
“I could feel the percussion,” Jordan said. “It sounded like a propane tank blew up.”
Jordan, who lives several miles from the Snake River Canyon, went looking for smoke but couldn’t find any.
At the same time, Jerry Callen was busy trying to save his sister’s house from floodwater. His sister and her husband were away on vacation last week when massive flooding hit the Magic Valley.
“We were fighting the flood a mile north (of the canyon),” said Callen. “The canyon was roaring like a jet engine. We knew something had happened.”
Reality hit when Callen returned to Triple C Farms where he and his two brother farm on the canyon rim. A 50-foot by 100-yard section on the rim had collapsed under the floodwaters.
He’s seen rocks slide from the canyon wall into the talus below, but never a chunk this size, the 63-year-old Jerome County native said.
“I lost some canyon-front property and a whole bunch of rock chucks,” he joked Monday.
But then the gravity of the situation set in.
When the piece of the canyon wall tore away from the bedrock, it created a fresh fracture in the rock behind it. A large crevice now runs east and west along the rim. Water from a broken levy poured into the new crack and out the canyon wall far below.
The new crevice has left that piece of the canyon wall in jeopardy.
Jerome County Commissioner Roger Morley said the crevice should be considered a safety risk. He plans to visit the site Tuesday.
Callen agrees. A “stick of dynamite” might remove the risk, he said.
“My nephew Todd Capps flew his drone over the rim Thursday and took a video,” Callen said. “We wouldn’t have known the extent of it if he hadn’t.”
By Friday, the flooding had subsided, but the crevice had widened by a foot.
Callen now has nightmares about that piece of the canyon.
“I dreamed I was pushing the piece into the canyon with my loader and my loader followed it,” he said. “Then I woke up.”