Hefty state grants are heading to North Idaho to help cover the cost of flood repairs, Gov. Phil Batt announced this week.
Three Panhandle counties have started making repairs to their levees without having the money in hand to pay for them.
“We decided to start the preliminary work, rather than wait for the money because we really need to get something done,” said Dick Panabaker, Kootenai County commissioner.
The state is providing $2.5 million in Community Development block grants for flood repairs and prevention.
Of that, $1.5 million will be used to match the $4.5 million that the federal Economic Development Administration has committed to five levee and flood-control projects in North Idaho.
The remaining $1 million will go toward housing and public infrastructure needs that are not being paid for through other agencies.
The major projects in North Idaho include about $300,000 worth of repairs and improvements to the levee in Cataldo, including an $80,000 floodgate for the Interstate 90 underpass. For the Shoshone County portion of the levee, plans call for the levee to be raised.
Welch Comer & Associates is designing the repair work, part of which should be completed before winter.
“When we get through repairing this, it will be in the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers program and will be eligible for grants under that program,” Panabaker said.
In Benewah County, the levee that protects St. Maries is scheduled for $2.9 million worth of repairs.
Latah County has one project that spans two communities - improving the levee system from Kendrick to Juliaetta.
“The valley through there was one of the most devastated,” said Dodd Snodgrass of the Clearwater Economic Development Association, which has written the grant applications for the funding. The levee systems there protect wastewater treatment systems and sewage lagoons.
In Orofino, a portion of the $6 million is bound for improvements along Orofino Creek, which washed away homes and threatened to take out a bridge during last winter’s floods.
A house belonging to Wayne and Cindy Wilson partially washed away in the flood, and the rest was demolished by the city to keep it from washing into the bridge.
The city has been assured that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide money to reimburse the Wilsons for their lost home, but the city still is waiting for confirmation.
FEMA was quick to provide $330,000 to cover immediate repairs from the flood in the Eastside Highway District, said Ken Renner, road supervisor.
The district’s crew has been working furiously to get Latour Creek Road, Dudley Road and other flood-damaged roads improved before the next big storm run-off.
“I’m doing what I absolutely have to get done to protect these roads before winter sets in,” Renner said.
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