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Garden City businesses fidget as floodwaters rise in warehouse district

Flooding in the Riverview Business Park in Garden City

People driving through Garden City's warehouse district to see the high river are causing problems, says Donna Saleen, property manager at Riverview Business Park. Jack's Metal Works is preparing for flooding, while Cascade River Sports' sales are
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People driving through Garden City's warehouse district to see the high river are causing problems, says Donna Saleen, property manager at Riverview Business Park. Jack's Metal Works is preparing for flooding, while Cascade River Sports' sales are

Bob Hanson paused from packing products for shipping Tuesday and looked over the parking lot at Riverview Business Park in Garden City. The Boise River, surging at flood levels, had caused water to back up through storm drains, forming deep pools in the business park that houses his business. Waterfowl swam down 46th Street.

“Oh, look,” Hanson said. “We have ducks.”

The rising water turned 46th Street into a lake May 5 when a downed tree diverted water over the river bank. The water came within 13 inches of the door of Hanson’s business, Gator Guard, which makes erosion- and sediment-control barriers for construction sites.

Gator Guard is one of about 150 businesses in rented units throughout the park. The water lapped against the corner of several units Tuesday. None sustained damage.

Hanson said he had never seen so much water in his 11 years in the park. He moved all of his electrical equipment off of the floor and out of harm’s way. A flooded unit would stall work and damage his products, he said.

“We can’t work in water, and if the water gets through the door, everything will be muddy and moldy,” he said. “We’ll lose product.”

A wall against the water

The flooding could have been worse. Classic Property Management, which runs the park, invested $10,000 more than a month ago in a concrete barrier near the edge of the river to guard against rising waters.

Property manager Donna Saleen said the river rose above the bank and climbed 1 foot up the barrier wall on May 5. The concrete sections were linked together and sealed with grout, but some water seeped under them. The barrier held.

“That was money well spent,” Saleen said.

The flood has turned Saleen into an amateur hydrologist. She checks graphs showing the river flow several times a day, including Tuesday morning, when the charts showed 9,300 cubic feet per second at the Glenwood Bridge.

Hydrologists said there is a 10 percent chance the flow will surpass 10,000 cfs sometime this spring. Saleen said the units in the park should be OK unless the flow reaches 11,000 cfs, when most would would be filled with water 4 to 6 inches deep.

She worries that the worst is yet to come.

“If it hits 11,000 cfs, there’s nothing we can do,” she said. “We’ll have to evacuate. We just wait and see each day.”

His only problem: Media distractions

Not all businesses are suffering. Matt Whitlock, who owns Wrecked Metal, a vintage-car restoration business, said the only problem he has had is distraction from news media showing up to film the river outside.

“It will flood down 46th Street before it floods in my shop,” Whitlock said. “Everybody else is worried. I’m not.”

The high water has boosted interest in the rafting season, bringing in more customers and a 30 percent increase in May sales for Cascade River Gear, also in the business park.

“This is exciting for us,” General Sales Manager Renee Zettle said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Garden City Cannery, located across 46th Street from the business park, doesn’t expect any problems, Manager Neil Billman said. Mormons use canneries to build food stores for emergencies and promote self-reliance.

Nervousness vs. acceptance

Saleen said the business park’s flood insurance covers any building damage, but not tenants’ items. Some tenants have learned the hard way that insurance companies will not activate new flood insurance policies until after a 30-day period with no flooding, she said.

The buildings closest to the river, including the cannery and the units housing Wrecked Metal and Cascade River Gear, are slightly higher than the units and other businesses a block or two down 46th Street.

Jack’s Metal Works, located across 46th Street from the Gator Guard unit, still has a small lake at its entrance.

“The boss’s wife is off the charts, but the guys aren’t too worried,” welder Bud Wilcoxon said. “There’s only so much we can do.”

Zach Kyle: 208-377-6464, @ZachKyleNews

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