By Mike Dunn 

Folks on the water

More reinforcements come in as the river continues to rise

 

Mike Dunn

Members of the National Guard fill sandbags Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to keep up with the demand. Late Tuesday evening, it was predicted that another 100,000 bags would be needed in addition to the 60,000 sandbags already in place to prevent flooding. The river has risen to levels higher than predicted earlier in the week. The weather, later this week, will play an important role in how high the river will get by Friday. Carbon County Emergency Management Coordinator John Zeiger is working with several state agencies in response to the rising waters.

The North Platte River is in the midst of its third major flood in five years.

The flood has closed Veterans Island, the Saratoga Hot Pool, along with several public access points around the river.

Encampment/Riverside, Sinclair, Elk Mountain and other Carbon County communities have experienced flooding as well.

High snowpack and rainstorms Friday night created perfect conditions for rising waters. The river went from 8.13 feet on noon Saturday to 9.17 on Monday.

"I held up Friday, I wanted to see what the weather was going to do," Carbon County Emergency Management coordinator John Zeiger said. "When I got up Saturday, after seeing the weather forecast, I felt that it was time for me to request [crews]."

After Homeland Security Team Bravo surveyed the area, Zeiger requested 50 members of the Wyoming National Guard and 24 Honor Farm inmate crews fill and toss sandbags along the North Platte River.

On Saturday, state hydrologist Jim Fahey projected the river levels would peak at 9.4 feet. The river reached a record height of 10.5 feet on Tuesday.

However, with massive rain and snow melt over the weekend, the North Platte River is holding steady at 10.4 feet. Levels could potentially rise with the warming temperatures and precipitation.

"Part of me inside thought we could see 2011 records, but once the rain started hitting, I felt even more confident that we could see the 2011 levels."

Zeiger and his Bravo team agreed the numbers they were getting from NOAA were not as accurate the the gauge underneath the Bridge street bridge. This has created problems for crews, as they have had to reassess their strategy and build sandbag barriers and extra half foot.


However, the memories of floods past helped prepare the town. Zeiger said the 2011 floods taught he and his team a lot of lessons, as they were proactive in preparing for the flood. At press time, there was over 200 National Guard members, honor farm inmate crews, volunteers and other government officials assisting with the flooding efforts. Additionally, Bravo team reported they tossed 30,000 sandbags and have 100,000 sandbags ready to be filled.

Additionally, the Army Corp of Engineers have identified flooding areas of concern

Saratoga residents like Gary (Widemshek) said he was pleased with the work the responders had put into flood safety. Widemshek recalled water being under his deck last year, but thanks to the proactive actions by the town and emergency responders, his house is fine.

"I give kudos to the town, they did a great job," he said.

Widemshek said he is still amazed over the flooding the past few years, saying he's lost several feet of his yard since 2010. He's hopeful the river restoration project would help with the flooding in Saratoga.

Zeiger would like to remind people to stay off of the river until the flows go down and to report any problems to Town Hall at 326-8335.

The Saratoga Sun has been working with Bravo team and area crews to provide up to date information on our Facebook page. Go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/Saratoga-Sun/468305570397 and "like" us to get up to the minute information on the flooding in Saratoga.

 

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