February 10, 1996 in Nation/World

Most Homes Not Insured For Flooding

From Staff Reports

Flood waters are splashing up against uninsured homes in Washington and Idaho.

“I would hazard to guess that most of them didn’t have insurance,” said Les Ruhs, a Colfax agent with Associated Independent Agencies.

He’s right. Only 54 structures in Whitman County have flood insurance. In Walla Walla, there are 94 policies. In Asotin, just 10.

There were 90 flood insurance policies in Kootenai County at the end of last year.

Mortgage companies often require flood insurance on new homes - at least for a couple years. But owners of older houses are free to gamble against floods.

Most years it looks like a good bet. For a $100,000 home, flood insurance costs anywhere from $225 to $825 a year.

Ruhs said most homeowners quit paying the premiums after a few dry years.

Most flood insurance is handled by the National Flood Insurance Program, a federal system funded by ratepayers. Once insured, policies can’t be canceled as long as premiums are paid.

Hangman season delayed

Some of the worst flooding in Spokane County will keep a popular golf course from opening in three weeks.

Steve Nelke, the head pro at Hangman Valley Golf Course, pointed to the invisible 18th green - buried under a muddy blanket - and put the highest water since 1974 in perspective.

“It’s just so impressive what nature can do,” he said. “We were going to open the first of March. God only knows how long it’s going to take us.”

The flooding Latah Creek left its mark on the first, 10th and 18th greens. A few fairways and tee boxes also are smothered in silt.

But the biggest concern might be the course’s three bridges. The arches and concrete supports are still standing, but the footpaths are missing in places.

Geiger inmate work crews will start cleanup as early as Monday at the course, located south of Spokane on Hangman Valley Road.

It’s too early to estimate the damages, Nelke said.

Nearby, at The Creek at Qualchan golf course, there was standing water in some fairways, but no major damage.

How to help victims

The American Red Cross is operating 36 shelters in Washington state for flood victims, and now the agency needs help to pay the bills.

Officials say the best way to help is to make a financial contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund. Donations can be made through any local Red Cross Chapter.

The Inland Northwest Chapter in Spokane can be reached at 326-3330.

Water management

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has slowed water releases from Grand Coulee Dam to a trickle to ease Columbia River flooding.

Only 31,000-cubic-feet per second was passing through the turbines Friday afternoon, a fraction of the 190,000 cfs of a week ago, said a spokesman.

Friday, Lake Roosevelt was 1,282 feet above sea level, up six feet in the last week, and more than two feet overnight. Full pool is 1,290 feet.

Power generation sacrificed at Grand Coulee has been replaced at Snake River dams, which have little storage capacity and are passing almost all the runoff through the turbines.

Washington Water Power Co. has kept the floodgates at Post Falls wide open since the heavy rains of mid-November, spokeswoman Dana Anderson said.

Outflows were 18,000 cfs Friday, but are expected to swell to more than 30,000 cfs over the weekend, she said.

With flows from the St. Joe, St. Maries and Coeur d’Alene rivers at 80,000 cfs and building, she said Lake Coeur d’Alene is expected to rise to six feet above summer levels by late Monday.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Spokane River between the lake and the Post Falls Dam.

, DataTimes

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