HAILEY, IDAHO - Now that the Big Wood River is below flood stage, city officials in Hailey are assessing damage to areas impacted by the historic flooding.
It's a situation we've been following for more than two months as people in the Della View area in Hailey were evacuated, and roads shut down.
It is night and day from the last time we were out here in June but it's pretty devastating to see the destruction the flood left in its path - like major erosion.
Even though the Big Wood River has gone down, standing water still surrounds many homes and the river is still rushing unusually fast and high in people's backyards.
Asphalt up and down War Eagle Drive washed away by swift flood water that inundated this area for more than two months. The Della View subdivision was hit the hardest by the flooding as it created an entirely new channel through this street.
“I couldn't live here because there's no lights, no heat, no nothing,” said homeowner Paul Richards.
Gas and power are now turned back on to houses previously under a mandatory evacuation order that were left without utilities for weeks. Now that city and county officials feel the worst of the flooding is over, they are doing initial assessments to infrastructure - particularly roads and power and gas lines - as well as to homes and properties.
“[The water] pretty much really took a step back over the weekend,” said Hailey Fire Chief Craig Aberbach.
Aberbach says the city is meeting with gas and power companies to come up with a plan to tackle repairs to the roads together.
“And where is that funding going to come from?” Asked KTVB.
“Right now we have applied for a grants and hopefully we will be successful with the grants, otherwise we will have to do the best we can with our existing budgets,” said Aberbach.
The acting city administrator for city of Hailey is estimating it's going to cost almost $1 million to repair roads. They requested emergency relief funds from the Idaho Office of Emergency Management.
As for homes in the neighborhood…
“The whole house was surrounded, we were in island,” said Richards. "It was nerve-racking and after a few weeks it gets to be pretty stressful."
“The damage to this point has been mostly just went to crawlspaces, a lot of damage to yards,” said Rebecca Bundy, City of Hailey acting flood plain manager.
City officials have been evaluating whether there's substantial damage to homes for the purpose of the National Flood Insurance Program through FEMA.
"We identify the structures that would potentially be substantially damaged. And those properties then for the last three weeks we have been going and walking the property, talking to the homeowners and assessing in a more detailed fashion the extent of the damage to these properties," added Bundy.
Bundy says they haven't seen any structures with "substantial damage" yet, meaning water is in the actual living space damaging things like appliances, cabinets and insulation, and meaning repairs would cost 50-percent of the value of the pre-damaged structure. But crews still have a few more homes to assess that they can't get to right now because the homes are surrounded by water- one of which they have heard has damage in the living space.
"We would like to get the ear of the governor and the federal people in terms of getting some assistance, and hopefully that will come sooner rather than later because they can do all the studies they want but we've got some road issues, we've got some power issues, we've got some other things that need to be dealt with now,” said Richards.
Portions of War Eagle Drive near the Big Wood River are dangerous because it was extremely saturated for an extended period of time, so officials put up concrete barriers and chains at two different access points to keep people out. Homeowners on the street were given keys to get through the chain; many are back living in their houses but are frustrated and exhausted as they are left to file flood insurance claims and clean up the mess.
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