The docks at Bell Bay were assaulted by winter floods.
So were ones at Harlow Point and Heyburn State Park, not to mention dozens upon dozens of private docks on North Idaho’s lakes and rivers.
Then there are the boathouses that floated away and the boat launch sites buried in mud and silt.
Can all these boat facilities be shipshape by summer?
It depends on whether swamped dock contractors get to the damage in time.
“Pilings broke. Docks are gone. Some people don’t even know where their docks are,” said John Swendener, who owns Moonlight Marine Construction. “I found some docks five miles down the lake from where they’re supposed to be.”
Swendener figured he’ll be working seven days a week until the Fourth of July to get caught up.
Other contractors are making similar forecasts. Some can’t take any more jobs unless people are willing to wait until after the Fourth of July.
“We won’t meet the demand,” said Dennis Liming, a supervisor with Harrison Dock Builders. “Some of them might find themselves waiting all summer long.”
When waters rose 7 feet above the summer lake level during the February melt and rainstorms, docks started rising on their pilings and floated down the lake and river.
In some cases, ramps leading from docks to the shore were pushed up into the ground and destroyed.
Debris, ice and strong currents snapped pilings or plucked them out of the lake bed.
All of the docks along Kootenai River in Boundary County were destroyed.
In Kootenai County, county boat facilities suffered at least $844,000 in damage, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Anything that would float is gone,” said Don Blaine, who owns Marine Construction. “All the way from Arrow Point to Harrison, everything got tore up by the floods.”
Among the tons of debris the county had corralled with log booms on Lake Coeur d’Alene was a pump-house.
“We haven’t figured out where that came from,” said Terry Hubbard, Kootenai County waterways supervisor.
Benewah County had at least $94,870 in damage, according to FEMA, and that doesn’t include the county boathouse.
“The boathouse for the county’s patrol boat lifted up and floated 13 miles down the river,” said Mark Brandt, state Parks and Recreation Department boating coordinator. When Brandt saw it, it was lodged against a downstream bridge.
While damage to state and county facilities is well-documented by now, many summer residents of the lakes and rivers have yet to discover the damage to their private docks. An average private dock can cost from $4,000 to $10,000 to replace.
“People are just now, with the nice weather, getting out and beginning to find out just how much damage they had,” Swendener said.
M&M; Dock Works has at least 100 more repair orders than usual, according to owner John Marjamaa.
“It’s grief-related work,” he said. “Nobody’s happy about it.”
Harrison Dock Builders business is about three or four times the normal volume. “This is totally off the charts,” noted employee Sharon Yablon.
Harrison Dock Builders, Murphy Tug & Barge Co. and other companies that drive pilings are in high demand.
At Heyburn State Park, 35 pilings have to be replaced - many of which identify the river channel through Chatcolet Lake.
At $250 each, it gets expensive, said park manager Fred Bear. The total for damage to the park docks and pilings was $19,250, he said.
Much of the problem at Heyburn was debris coming down the river and washing up on shore.
“We got several boathouses and home that floated down and ended up in the park,” Bear said. “There was a lot of damage. No doubt about that.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO HELP CLEAN UP DEBRIS FROM FLOODS Volunteers will take to the St. Joe River shoreline along Heyburn State Park this week to clean up flood debris for the National Day of Service. Idaho AmeriCorps and Vista National Service members invite the public to join them Thursday in picking up tires, oilcans and drums, chunks of plastic foam and other garbage. The cleanup is from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Volunteers are advised to wear clothes that can get wet and muddy and to bring work gloves and sack lunches. Volunteers with boats are encouraged to bring those as well. For more information, call Heyburn State Park ranger Theresa Perry at (208) 686-1308.
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