Boise River flood recovery efforts will be costly and lengthy

Flood recovery will take a lot of time, money.

BOISE -- Historic flooding is just the first fight; the long, strenuous battle of recovery is still ahead.

"We expect to see a lot of stuff," Ada County Engineer Angie Gilman said.

After months of near record-breaking flows and floods, the Boise River could be going down soon. But that doesn't mean we're out of the woods. There is a lot of damage and erosion on the Greenbelt and bridges over the river that needs to be looked at, and officials will be keeping their eyes on other major issues in the weeks to come.

MORE: Water experts: Snowpack melting down, end of runoff in sight

County and city officials are still in flood fight mode currently as the river continues to rush high and fast.

"We obviously still have situations out at Eagle Island, Barber Park and Sunroc gravel pit that are still very tenuous. So we're just still really watching all that kind of stuff right now really closely," Gilman told KTVB.

They will have to assess damage along the river, but they can't get to it right now. However, they are certain there will be sections of the Greenbelt that remain closed for a very long time.

"Right now it's too far out there to even tell," Gilman added. "Our hope is that sometime next week we'll be able to start to drop flows and get them back hopefully into what we call "bank full," so at least they'll be in the riverbanks."

At that point, county officials can take a breath and begin evaluating areas around the river.

"With the volume of water we've had for the length of time that we've had it we could definitely have a lot of damage to the Greenbelt system, probably even some of our roads, obviously some of our pathway bridges and things like that," Gilman said.

Roadway bridges such as Linder Road, Eagle Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway are likely going to be affected, Gilman says.

"All of them have seen high flows. All those engineers are going to be going in to inspect those bridges and make sure their footings and piers and things are still safe," Gilman said. 

Gilman says once the water recedes, engineers and building officials will work to prioritize and determine what parts of the pathway are safe and set up usable and viable detours for the areas that are not. But depending on the extent of the damage, it could take years to repair or replace some portions of the Greenbelt path. In addition to erosion, there could be saturated spots that sink eventually.

Recovery efforts will be incredibly costly, Gilman says.

"County-wide when you look at everything definitely in the millions."

"There is the possibility maybe of FEMA participating, but to what level, we're not even sure or even if at all. It just depends on [what] the magnitude of this event ends up being determined as in their eyes."

Gilman says the county does not have a deep pocket of funds to take care of all the repairs or replacements right away.

"We have spent so much on flood fight so far so we just don't know how much will be left by the time we get done with this phase for that next part."

Boise Parks and Recreation will have to tackle repairs in inundated city parks.

"There will be a lot of repairs to be done in our parks. If you just look at Ann Morrison Park things have been under water, I mean it's a lake out here now all the way across the road," Boise City Forester Brian Jorgenson said. "All the turf and other things that are under water that really shouldn't be under water, we may have to replace or clean those."

On top of all that damage, trees that have been saturated sitting in water for months pose major hazards.

"Some of the trees get very saturated underneath and then combine it with a windstorm like we just had, the soil gets very loose and kind of spongy and wet and there's really nothing for the roots and soil to grip on to anymore. They get really slippery," Jorgenson said, "and a wind comes along, or it's just the weight of the tree sometimes, and they can topple over and uproot."

Local first responders, Boise River Flood Control District #10 and county and city officials are watching - and will be for the next several weeks - to make sure trees don't fall into the river or onto the Greenbelt.

"That - probably going forward for the next few weeks - is still going to be something we're going to have to continue to watch. Just because we have already seen what it did to Garden City. The impacts of something like that are huge," Gilman said. "So much of it is just watching and making sure that it doesn't do damage either to roads and the storm drain systems by backing up water or to a bridge that is downstream."

"Mostly we're just going to have to wait until things start to recede and then pick up the pieces afterwards," Jorgenson added.

If you see trees in or along the river that look like they're about to fall over, let the county know immediately.

Government officials are asking for your patience and urging you to stay off the Greenbelt and out of floodwaters because both are dangerous.

MORECrews remove decades-old Greenbelt bridge

As for the eroded bridge that was removed on Plantation Island earlier this spring, Gilman says they're really hoping they can build a new one because that bridge is a major connection between Garden City and Boise.
But Gilman says they could potentially relocate the new bridge to a different connection point on the island.

 

© 2017 KTVB-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment