Evacuated families camp outside flooded homes

Six families have come together during this tough time.

EAGLE - The Boise River is dropping, and now the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation say the flow rate at Glenwood Bridge should be below flood stage by Thursday afternoon.

Dozens of residents have already moved back to the flooded Riviera Estates Mobile Home Park in Eagle, camping outside their own homes with no running water, gas or power.

They were forced to move out a few weeks ago because of unsanitary conditions.

But residents say they are getting by, and would prefer to be at the park rather than a shelter.

People at the park have created a gathering area and call it "The Middle."

There is a washing area, grills and tables where between 20 to 30 mouths are fed every night.

Several weeks ago, Eagle Police put a mandatory evacuation order in place, but said they won't forcibly remove anyone.

So what has life been like for the residents of this mobile home park?

“You keep living, that’s what you do,” said J.R. Vanhoover.

Vanhoover came back to the park four days after the evacuation order was put in place at the end of May. Not wanting to go to a shelter, he came home and started out with a barbeque, generator and a couple buckets of water.

“And then people started running out of money and places to go, so we just started banding together,” said Vanhoover.

Alisha Cowger was staying in her uncle's backyard, in a sheepherder’s tent with her four children, three dogs and a parrot.

“I thought to myself why did I ever pack up and leave? Why wasn't this my first response?” said Cowger. “I had my three boys -- 10, 9, and 8 -- they finished the last two weeks of school in a tent. I would drive them up to Eagle Hills, and they would get dressed every day in a tent.”

Now, a total of six families have bound together at "The Middle."  Everything is shared and everyone works together.

“I use to sell kettle corn, so we have the kettle corn pot for heating our water and heating dishes or baths or doing laundry,” said Vanhoover. “Our kitchen table, where we dry our dishes and doubles as our prep area, and then we have our living room with a nice built-in fireplace.”

“There are about 14 to 15 kids in here, the oldest one is 10, so we have a lot of little rugrats to feed but we do it with ease, you would be surprised,” said Cowger.

Wooden pallets donated from Home Depot and Fred Meyer serve as makeshift walkways to help residents avoid the contaminated water.

“The palettes are definitely an essential, it makes sure that were also not tracking all this water in and out of our homes, all those germs are staying out here,” said Cowger.

Families living at Riviera Estates are showering at the YMCA and use five port-o-potties that are spread throughout the park.

It may seem rough, but residents say it's a better alternative to a shelter.

“It is a sense of pride, it’s mine and if you leave, and when I did leave I was back here twice a day just to make sure the water hadn't come up and I didn't need to move things out,” said Cowger. “If I'm going to still pay my DirecTV and internet bill, I'm going to utilize it.”

“We have our own beds to sleep in, that is one of the luxuries you get of being at home,” said Vanhoover.

Although residents say they are getting by, they welcome donations.

Drinking water, propane, gasoline, bug spray, a washboard and more palettes are needed.  You can just come down to the park, drop them off and they will be disbursed to those that need them.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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