Flash flood sirens no longer work, so what comes next?

Flash flood sirens no longer work, so what comes next?

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by Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 10:02 PM

Updated Saturday, Aug 24 at 7:30 PM

BOISE -- Near Boise's North End gulches, sit seven flash flood sirens, which are meant to send out a warning tone if there was a flash flood.

However, the sirens no longer work, and the city has to decide what to do with them.

When a fire burns, many plants and trees die, this loosens the soil increasing the risk of flooding.

In 1996, the Eight Street Fire burned through the Boise foothills worrying emergency managers.

"There was a great concern and a big risk then of debris flows, meaning mud and rock coming down very quickly without notice after even a small rain fall," said Ada County Emergency Management Director Doug Hardman.
   
They needed a way to warn people quickly, so in 1997, the city installed the flash flood sirens.

"We had the debris flow that we were worried about on Crane Creek, and it did some damage to the golf course and a few homes in there, and we set the sirens off," said Hardman. "We actually had the sirens installed the day before it flooded."

After the debris flow from Crane Creek, improvements were made to help prevent more debris flows in the future.

"There was so much work done by the state and federal agencies in the foothills, the rehab and the mitigation projects, and Boise City did a great job of building flood control structures. So after 16 years, it's all grown back, everything's in good shape," Hardman said. "And because of the flood control structures those foothills gulches are safer than they were before the fire."

According to Hardman, the sirens, in addition to not working, do not work with new dispatch technology.

"Boise City officials are going to weigh their options on do they replace it, do they try to fix or do they decommission the sirens," Hardman said. "We've maintained them for 16 years, but they've reached that point now where everything's kind of becoming end-of-life."

Hardman could not tell KTVB how much it would cost to fix or replace the sirens, but said it could be very expensive.

Hardman encourages anyone who wants to receive emergency alerts to sign up for the Idaho State Alert and Warning System.

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