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Ten thousand sand bags later, the flash flood waters that inundated parts of Salmon have receded leaving behind four homes with major damage and a lot of general clean up.

Friday morning, February 6, the low temperature was around 30 degrees. By Friday afternoon temperatures south of town suddenly touched the 61 degree mark which sent cascades of water pouring down the canyon walls of Highway 93 South and in places flowing across the pavement. Highway crews were out most of the rainy night clearing culverts and removing boulders from the roadway.

By Saturday the flooding conditions had reached the City of Salmon.

City Public Works Crew Boss James Miller said that around noon on Saturday he was called to the cemetery where water had started to flow over a bank and run on to the gravesites. The problem was resolved by 2PM and Miller said by the time he returned to town water was everywhere. He said he spent the rest of the afternoon alongside an army of volunteers who had gathered to fill sandbags.

The area hardest hit by the flash flood of snow melt was all along Kids Creek and included River Street, Water Street, Gwartney Avenue and South St. Charles. Culverts in the Kids Creek/Highway 93 area could simply not accommodate the huge volume of rushing water.

Miller said at the County Shop there were from 40 to 50 people filling and hauling bags, delivering them where needed and coming back for more. Miller recognized residents of the Bar Hill and from outside city limits whose properties were in no danger but had come to help those who were.

City Councilman Ken Hill and Russ Chinske were among the volunteers who joined forces with Search and Rescue personnel, County Road and Bridge crews, County Emergency Services, workers from the Baptist Church and Church of Latter Day Saints, Dahle’s and many, many others.

Emergency Services Coordinator Janet Nelson said a total of 10,000 bags were distributed. Two thousand of the bags were given to City Public Works Superintendent Harry Shanafelt who ultimately took many of the bags back to the County Shop for filling. Others he deposited at the St. Charles Street site where Dahle’s Red-E-Mix had dumped a pile of sand for bag filling.

As proof of the flash flood description, the L5 diversion on the Lemhi River that morning listed a flow rate of 488 cubic feet per second. The reading peaked only a few hours later at 1300 cubic feet per second.

Nelson thinks the deluge could easily qualify as a 50 year flood event and said the joint effort to assist came from just everywhere. Many thanks go out to everyone.

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