EAGLE - Over the last several weeks, different agencies came together to help their community in a time of dire need.
Eagle Island has been overrun with water over the past several weeks, with floodwater spreading across roads, reaching people's property and even forcing a mobile home park to evacuate.
While that was happening, state employees on Eagle Island worked tirelessly to help their neighbors protect their homes. Flood water threatened about 125 homes between the north and south channel of the Boise River on Eagle Island. Homeowners were worried for weeks, especially at the thought of the SunRoc gravel pit failing upstream. But with the help of different groups and government agencies diverting water or packing and delivering sand bags, their homes were safeguarded.
"It is nice to have help when you need it," one resident who lives on Artesian Road on Eagle Island, Josh Liddell, said. "We would have flooded pretty bad had we not had the sandbags."
An endless supply of sandbags appeared along the streets as floodwater inundated people's property, pastures and homes.
"We needed them," Liddell added. "The fish hatchery just kept bringing what seemed like an endless supply of sandbags. So we owe them a big debt and a lot of gratitude for doing that."
"In January we started talking about sandbags and what we were going to need because they started talking about the amount of snowpack. So we started gearing up for it," Eagle Fish Hatchery utility craftsman, Doug Marsters, told KTVB.
Then, after Ada County Emergency Management officials announced they were concerned about the possibility of a pit capture and breach leading to catastrophic flooding, Marsters says hatchery staff placed sandbags all around and across their property.
Then, the river began expanding rapidly, they decided it was necessary to help out residents on the island and protect them from flooding.
"The first thing we did is we loaded palettes up on our trailer and forklift. We could cut through our neighbor's place here and it's just a hop, skip and a jump over to Artesian [Road]," Marsters added. "
Idaho Department of Fish and Game employees who work at the Eagle Fish Hatchery delivered bags to nearby homes on the island.
"As we saw need or they got more water we just kept doing it and then a lot of the residents were asking for more," Marsters added.
"it was a sight to see, no doubt," Liddell said. "Obviously they were flooding too, but they are not just in it for themselves. They really helped our neighborhood tremendously."
Fish and Game bought many of the bags, but Marsters says the Department of Homeland Security provided the majority of them. Some of the sand to fill the bags was donated, while Fish and Game purchased some. They also had sandbags stockpiled from years past that they were able to use.
The Ada County Sheriff's Labor Detail got to work for them, bagging about 57,000 sandbags.
"They have been outstanding as far as giving us the help we need," Marsters added.
Many of the bags were used to protect the hatchery's compound, while most were delivered to neighbors.
"There's a lot of elderly people in the neighborhood, a lot of elderly people on our road alone," Marsters said. "We're friends with a lot of these people. We know they don't have the means or the bodies to do it so we've just kind of jumped in and helped them out... Just try to do our part in being good neighbors."
The Liddells say they put down about 250 sandbags to protect their property.
"My entire shop would have flooded had I not had all the sandbags from the fish hatchery," Liddell added. "It did work. It pushed the water where I needed it to and it created a barrier to where we could pump out from under the house and pump it back out."
Liddell and his neighbors are also extremely grateful for Eagle Island State Park employees.
"They took a lot of the floodwater and pushed it in a certain direction away from this neighborhood and back into the river," Liddell told KTVB. "So accolades to them, too, for doing that."
Residents say they are also thankful to the hundreds of LDS church members who brought by thousands of sandbags.
"We live in a great place and I wouldn't trade it but it sure is nice to see fire, police, the state park, the fish hatchery all come together in such a good effort and really help us out. It was neat to see and we are lucky to have such good neighbors in the fish hatchery and the park," Liddell added.
"They would do the same for us if it were reversed, so good people," Marsters said.
While Riviera Estates Mobile Home Park is still evacuated, a lot of other people living on Eagle Island are dealing with water in their crawl spaces and standing water on their land. But now, as the river recedes and isn't as threatening, homeowners say it's about picking up the pieces and moving on.
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