GARDEN CITY -- Streets are flooding in Garden City after a tree along the bank of the Boise River fell into the river, causing water to divert over the banks.
The flooding is happening on 46th Street past Adams Street at the Riverview Business Park, an area mostly filled with warehouses and businesses. Water is currently between six and eight inches deep on 46th Street, and the Greenbelt is completely submerged.
Garden City Mayor John Evans said the tree uprooted and toppled into the river about a week ago, eventually working its way downstream about two blocks before getting hung up at 46th Street Friday.
Tree falls into Boise River
Evans said the city is currently assessing the situation, but expects the tree to break loose and continue moving downstream at some point. Safety concerns have so far kept crews from entering the river to try to get it unstuck.
The Army Corps of Engineers, Garden City Police, and multiple other Garden City agencies are working to evaluate the situation. Garden City is trucking in sandbags to keep the floodwaters at bay.
Most of the businesses in the Riverview Business Park have already sandbagged their properties, and damage is minimal, a property manager said. The business park also put up a concrete barrier about a month ago as a precaution against flooding, she said.
Officials will continue to monitor the tree if it begins to move further downstream to make sure it does not become lodged at the Glenwood Bridge, Evans said.
Another issue road crews and emergency management officials are facing is a downed tree in the south channel of the Boise River near Linder Road. They are also concerned about the Star Road bridge over the river.
Not only is the water rushing extremely quickly, but it is also very close to the bottom of the Linder bridge. In addition to that, there is a tree toppled into the river upstream, essentially laying across the middle of the expanded river. It hasn't completely loosened from its banks but crews are watching closely and monitoring the situation.
"If the tree snags up against the bridge with all those branches, it becomes a strainer. Then the strainer starts to collect more debris then all of the sudden you have a dam and you have a pretty serious ponding incident that would get really big, really fast," Ada County Highway District (ACHD) Chief Information Officer, Craig Quintana, said.
Swift, high flows have spurred problems along the river for months, particularly for residents along the south channel of the river in Eagle near Linder Road.
"There's not a lot more we can do. We've sand bagged," long-time resident Donovan Jones told KTVB.
Jones has left his home on three separate occasions over the last month for fear that he will be evacuated in the middle of the night due to extreme, worsening flooding that could occur if the newly-constructed levee at the SunRoc gravel pit fails.
"I'm concerned. I wouldn't want to have to get out of here in a hurry in the middle of the night," Jones added. "If it comes across two to three feet deep, I don't think this house will stay on its foundation."
Water is inundating Jones' and other homeowners' basements.
"We've got a continuous pump now underneath the house because our furnace runs are under the house," Jones said.
Garden City Mayor John Evans and ACHD officials say there is not a lot they can do about the hazardous trees at this time. They say the river banks are unstable and it's too dangerous to bring in heavy machinery to pull the trees from the water.
"If it continues to move downstream and gets to Glenwood then we could see an even more serious situation," Quintana told KTVB.
But officials ensured us they will work to remove the downed trees in Garden City and Eagle before they hit nearby bridges; either scenario, they say, would be horrific.
"Everyone knows what the stakes are and we're not going to allow it get to that point," Quintana added.
The river banks and trees have been saturated for quite some time; not only are officials worried about the bridges we mentioned but they're also extremely concerned about trees all up and down the Boise River in Ada County. They will continue to monitor the situation closely because this problem could only get worse.
ACHD staged back hoes and excavators that can remove trees from the river at the new LDS Temple under construction near the Linder bridge, as well as near the Star Road bridge.
Road crews and emergency responders tell KTVB they are checking all bridges of concern every day.