PAYETTE COUNTY, Idaho — Water levels in Payette County have gone down after flooding earlier in April, but at least one New Plymouth family is still not in the clear.
David and Shirley Harrison have lived off of Highway 52 in Payette County for the last 50 years. Seventeen years ago, they built a concrete bridge to get them across a canal that separated the road and their property.
Recent flooding washed out a portion of the bridge, and now there's only one way to access their home: a ladder with plywood on top of it.
“The other floods we’ve had, it’s gotten much deeper - but never going as fast as it was this time,” Shirley said.
So fast, the water took out a portion of a bridge, and that left pieces of concrete below in the canal.
“We’ve seen water over the bridge, but it’s never washed out,” Shirley said.
The Harrisons and their granddaughter, Alli Wall, still had to get across the canal. That’s when they threw together the makeshift “bridge."
“We had to put a ladder across and then some sort of plywood on top so we could walk across safely,” Wall said. “It’s kind of scary watching, especially my granny getting across because she has a hard time seeing and a hard time getting around.”
David and Shirley have a system on how to get across the ladder safe and sound.
“He just walks across it really well,” Shirley said about her husband of 60 years. “But I’m legally blind so I don’t see as well, so I grab his back pockets and we start out and he talks to me all the way across and I get across just fine - and then when we get back home we do the same thing.
David and Shirley said walking across a ladder isn’t the worst thing that has happened to them.
“We’re pretty tough, we’re in our 80’s we’ve been through a lot,” Shirley said.
It’s a situation that concerns Lt. Andy Creech with the Payette County Sheriff’s Office, but there is nothing the county can do for them because it is a private bridge on private property.
“Only way to get individual assistance is if you have a federal disaster and if there is a large spread amount of damage to the citizens individually,” Creech said.
Because of that, the sheriff’s office is doing what they can to help out.
“We helped them set up a GoFundMe account, we helped get that set up,” Creech said. “We’ve also talked with the water master here in Payette. He has a lot of contacts with irrigation companies. He will go out and view the damage himself and see if there is something the irrigation companies can do.”
In the meantime, the Harrisons will continue to walk across the ladder, trying to get to one side from the other safe and sound.
“I’m hanging on for dear life to Dave and have been hanging on for 60 years. I trust him, he’s not going to shove me off,” Shirley said with a laugh.
Even though the bridge being washed out is a major inconvenience for the Harrison family, they said they want to wait until the end of flooding season to do any repairs.