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Idaho Falls slammed with severe storm causing downtown flooding

"This was definitely was unusual for our area to have that amount of water in such a short time."

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Parts of central and eastern Idaho are in a marginal risk for severe storms again today. Storms are expected to continue to track through tonight. Yesterday, so much rain fell in Idaho Falls streets quickly flooded.

During the storm, the Idaho Falls Fire Department said every street in the downtown area was impassible. The fire department added their crews were overwhelmed with calls within 30 minutes of the severe weather alerts. They had to rescue several people from the water. 

One of those rescues included helping a family get out of their house. The person who called said they couldn't open their door because of the flood waters. The fire department carried twin toddlers, a baby, and the mother through a bedroom window. The fire department said there were no injuries reported in any incident they responded to yesterday.

Kerry Hammon, the Public Information Officer for the Idaho Falls Fire Department, explained what crews saw last night.

 "We went on multiple water rescues last night. In fact, we had so many that it kind of overwhelmed our crews that were on shift last night,' Hammon said. "So, we had to emergency call back some of our other shifts, and we even had our chiefs responding in their chief vehicles to calls because we couldn't keep up on them. There were so many, so it happened very quickly."

Hammon added that she's been in her current position for about 10 years. In all, the fire department responded to 76 calls on Tuesday.

Hammon also said they're monitoring the storms expected tonight as well. She echoed the advice the National Weather Service gives in flooding situation, "turn around, don't drown". It's often really difficult to tell how deep water is. It only takes about a foot of water to float a car.

"That's part of the problem we had last night. People kept driving in when that rain was pouring. And they were going in the underpasses," Hammon said. "So, stay away from those underpasses and the bridges, because it just compounded everything. They would, to the point that, we had two vehicles that were floating in the underpass and stuck and still people who are going attempting to go through the water. So, you know, don't do it."

While the flooding in Idaho Falls didn't have to do with high river levels, the Portneuf River near Pocatello is expected to exceed major flood stage over the next two days.

Shane Grow is the Assistant Fire Chief for the Pocatello Fire Department. Grow said the river already rose above its banks. Right now, walking paths are flooded, but homes haven't flooded yet. Cities have sandbags available for property owners if they're needed.

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