County officials prepare for flooding possibility

BLACKFOOT — Bingham County Emergency Management Services Director Craig Rowland welcomed county, school district, city, fire, police and weather service officials to a flood planning meeting Tuesday in the basement of the Blackfoot fire department.
Under discussion was planning for the potential flood season.
The weather patterns are similar to those in 1997, said hydrologist Troy Lindquist from the NOAA National Weather Service in Pocatello. The last county-wide flooding in Bingham County occurred in 1997.
"There's the potential for a decent amount of rain," Lindquist said.
"In case we get flooding, we are better prepared this year than we were in '97," Rowland said.
In 1997, the county ordered a million sandbags. By the time they arrived, only 250,000 sand bags were used.
"We have enough sandbags for people who need them," said Blackfoot Police Chief David Moore.
Moore also suggested a person be appointed as the public information officer with a single number to call for information.
In case of flooding, the fairgrounds will be the sandbagging area, Rowland said.
There are 11 levees in the county. Three of these levees have been repaired this spring, Rowland said. Head gates have also been rebuilt since '97.
"People have asked why didn't the Bureau of Reclamation start delivering water earlier?" Rowland asked. "It's a guessing game."
"So will we have flooding?" Rowland asked Lindquist.
"Yes, we anticipate some flooding," said Lindquist, an hydrologist with the NOAA Weather Service in Pocatello.
"As you go longer in the season, the amount [of moisture] continues to rise," said climatologist Vernon Preston with NOAA.
Moisture patterns are based on 30-year averages, he said.
"We're pretty prepared," Rowland said. "We're pretty geared up."
In case of flooding, conditions become ripe for more mosquitoes.
"Putting on my other hat, we are treating mosquito areas already," said Rowland, who is also the county's mosquito abatement director. "We have a really good abatement team."
Because of the cold winter, Rowland anticipates the mice and vole population will be down.