Wood River Valley Residents Battle Floodwaters Over The Weekend

May 15, 2017

Big Wood River at flood stage in Ketchum, Idaho, May 13, 2017. Aerial photo by Tom Michael.
Credit Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

Wood River Valley residents continued to battle floodwaters over the weekend. Officials distributed sandbags as worried residents moved to fortify their homes throughout Blaine County. 

The Big Wood River continued to rush along at flood-level stages. The river hit a peak level on Friday night, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began reinforcing the Broadford levee in Bellevue. On Saturday, Governor Butch Otter arrived in Hailey to meet with local officials.

Each day, librarian Randy Kemp has seen Warm Springs Creek rise and rise by his Ketchum home.

“You know," he explains, "long-term residents are saying, I’ve never seen it like this before. This is a big deal.”

Last week, Blaine County was placed under a state of emergency and some neighborhoods were evacuated. Kemp says one of his son’s classmates was evacuated and the other had to move twice. 

"The house they were in flooded. They went to live in an alternative house. And that house, too, experienced flooding. So they had to move onto a third house.”

Kemp has seen video images of water rescues, and on Wednesday, a Ketchum resident died while trying to pump water out of a basement. On visits to the swollen banks of Warm Springs, Kemp tries to teach his two children the natural power of the river.

“This is what water can do," he says. “This is what water does. This is the impact that the snow has had.”

With cooler weather in the forecast, the Big Wood is expected to drop below flood stage in the coming days. 

Find Tom Michael on Twitter @Tom2Michael

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