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FLOOD RESPONSE CRITIQUED 2-18-15 LMS

The city’s Public Safety Team met on February 11, four days after the flood that inundated parts of Salmon, and that flood was the main topic of discussion.

Public Safety Team Chairman Ken Hill said in addition to team members Fred Waidely and Russ Chinske those gathered for the meeting included Salmon Police Chief KV Felker, Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman, Lemhi County Chief Deputy Steve Penner, Lemhi County Emergency Services Director Janet Nelson, Lemhi County Dispatch Supervisor Paul Smith, City Public Works Crew Chief Jim Miller and Salmon City Mayor Leo Marshall.

Hill told the February 18 meeting of the Salmon City Council the discussion covered causes of the flood, city and county personnel response as well as all the volunteer assistance. It was agreed by the group that not much could have been done to prevent the flood and also agreed more proactive measures could have been taken. One of those measures should have been calling for a meeting to plan a response and notifying various agencies and departments about what was likely to be needed should the emergency occur.

Hill said the filling of sand bags to be placed along Kid’s Creek could have begun Friday evening or at least earlier on Saturday. Preparedness actions recommended included having a current emergency call list available to Lemhi County Dispatch with names and contact numbers of all emergency services entities plus a designated Incident Commander to oversee and coordinate all activities between city and county departments, volunteer organizations and the public. Notification outlets included the radio station and social media for directing citizens to needed areas of assistance and advising sightseers to stay out of the way and not impede those working to mitigate the flood damage.

Hill said the city and county will be working with Nelson to make sure the call list is current and in place at the Dispatch Center, the City Clerk’s Office, County Clerk’s Office, Sheriff’s Office and the Salmon Police Department.

During the council’s Public Comment opportunity Everett Teigen told the council that for the first time in 20 years of residency, a triplex he and his wife own at the corner of South Saint Charles and Lemhi was flooded. He added they greatly appreciated all the volunteers who came to help but it was simply too late.

Teigen has since walked the Kid’s Creek water course and found it has many tributaries that narrow to a six foot culvert where it dumps into the river. He said, “It’s like a river built backwards.” He said there are trees in the center of the creek bed as well as other obstructions all along the way. He asked who has jurisdiction or is in charge of cleaning the ditch. He also suggested something could be done at the dyke where the creek empties into the river through a high culvert. Teigen said if the culvert has to remain at that height perhaps more culverts and tide gates could be installed to keep water from running back into the ditch. He photographed his findings and said he would be happy to put together a power point presentation.

As to jurisdiction Councilman Fred Waidely said the State of Idaho owns the water in Kid’s Creek but property owners on both sides of the channel own the actual creek bed so they would be responsible for cleaning out obstructions. He said culverts are another matter.

Waidely invited Teigen to make his power point presentation to the next Public Works Team meeting on March 11 and Teigen accepted.
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