December 1, 1995 in Nation/World

Idahoans Seek High Ground Cda, St. Joe Rivers Flood Their Banks

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:weather

Cody Standridge woke Thursday morning and “found a river running through my yard.”

With flood waters from the rising Coeur d’Alene River threatening to swamp floorboards in his family’s Enaville trailer home, the boy saw his mission.

Capt. Standridge to the rescue.

The 13-year-old hopped inside an aluminum livestock trough, grabbed a 1x6-inch board and paddled across his yard to a pen. He roped a stranded calf, pushed it out a gate and led it 30 yards to dry pavement.

No big deal for this salty young river pilot.

“I figured if he’s not smart enough to follow me, he’s not smart enough to live,” Standridge said, arms folded across his chest.

As the river rose 4 feet above flood stage Thursday, the Enaville teenager was not the only Silver Valley resident forced to abandon traditional transportation.

In fact, many here stayed home from work and school - some were stranded in their homes - and faced rising water, power outages, boiled-water orders and flooded basements.

Two houses down from Standridge, Perry Brown trudged in red waders through a knee-deep moat to his home where 5 feet of water filled his basement. Brown’s neighbor rowed past floating firewood to get to his back door.

Kellogg and Wallace school districts canceled classes Thursday and today because buses couldn’t pass through washed-out roads.

More than 100 families south of Cataldo couldn’t move at all. Several feet of water washed out Latour Creek Road, stranding them on the south side of Interstate 90.

“We get stuck up here a lot so we’re used to it,” said resident Carol Christmann, who spent the day moving horses to high ground. “In 1974, we were stuck here two weeks.”

Carol Grubbs, a Kootenai County disaster coordinator, said the river was expected to peak at 8 p.m. Thursday. With more rain, the roads could be closed for days.

Throughout the day, Kootenai County sheriff’s officials led a sandbagging crew hoping to keep water from rushing into Cataldo. Despite their efforts, Exit 40, at Cataldo, closed mid-day. Chocolate-colored muck swirled through garages and seeped into living rooms.

A frustrated Walt Reed started the sandbagging at 8 a.m., to protect his home in Cataldo’s flatlands.

“I don’t know if I’ll be here another winter,” he said. “I’m thinking about selling out. It’s a pain in the neck.”

At the Central Shoshone Water District further east, rising swill collapsed a retaining wall for a drinking water well. More than 2,200 people in Kellogg, Osburn and Smelterville were forced to boil water. Boil orders also are in effect in Wallace, Page, Silverton, Mullan and Pinehurst and could last through the weekend.

Some stranded residents with faucets full of river water also faced hours without power, complicating boil orders.

“You hope people have an old camp stove or something,” said Mac Pooler, with the water district.

Reed shrugged off the boil order, saying he drank only coffee, “which I almost boil anyway.”

“Drink beer,” joked Van Scott, who prepared for the flood by laying 190,000 pounds of rip-wrap around his yard. It appeared to be working, but he was considering another night in a hotel rather than risk a splash awakening.

American Red Cross volunteers did not have shelters, but were on alert in case some were needed.

Flooding in the St. Joe River south of Lake Coeur d’Alene wasn’t expected to peak until midnight Thursday night. Three feet of water washed across the road to Calder, leaving residents only one backroad access.

Wednesday, St. Joe City lowlander Jim Reilly had planned to spend Thursday playing cribbage with his wife and watching the water rise around him. A sheriff’s boat picked the couple up in the middle of the night.

“He decided that shore looked a little better at 4 a.m.,” said Benewah County disaster coordinator George Currier.

Only one other family was evacuated.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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