March 26, 1997 in Idaho

Hauser Lake Residents Suffer High-Water Hardship

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The school bus won’t stop at Matheson Road on the north end of Hauser Lake.

The water’s too deep, and the road’s officially closed.

On the south end of the lake, the park’s picnic benches have gone submarine.

Part of Hauser Lake Road has washed away in the runoff, and several sections are covered with water.

“It’s never been anywhere near this high,” said Hazel Holmes, who’s lived on the southeast end of the lake for 30 years.

This year the lake and her yard are one and the same. The little cabin her son lives in next door is surrounded by water.

The white picket fence and some wooden pallets now serve as a walkway from the cabin door to the rented, portable toilet.

“Now we got more lakefront,” Holmes joked Tuesday.

Hauser Lake is likely to stay swollen for awhile. Despite temperatures in the 60s, the lake still has ice floating over most of it.

Soggy snow clings to the mountainsides above the lake as a constant reminder of more water to come.

In a desperate attempt to help the lake drain, local residents cleaned debris out of the outlet creek last weekend, said D.J. Nall of Westside Resort.

“Eleven volunteers, three seniors, managed to get water flowing through the creek,” Nall said. “Even after they did clean it out, it was coming in faster than it was leaving.”

The outlet creek was running so high and fast Tuesday that it was starting to overflow onto state Highway 53 downstream.

While the water level of Hauser Lake appeared to be peaking, the level of major rivers in the area dropped slowly.

Dry days and cool nights were keeping a cap on the meltdown.

The St. Joe River was still 2-1/2 feet below flood stage. But Benewah County officials aren’t relaxing. Sandbags are being stockpiled and the commissioners are considering a declaration of “imminent threat,” to put the state on notice that trouble’s brewing.

“We’re concerned about the amount of water up there,” said George Currier, county civil defense director, referring to the snowpack in the mountains.

The Coeur d’Alene Lake level is 2,129 feet, one foot over summer level, which means water is backing up into the rivers and keeping them high.

The Coeur d’Alene River was 4-1/2 feet below flood stage.

The forecast from the National Weather Service was calling for scattered showers late today.

A combination of warm weather and significant rain is the recipe for flooding this spring.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo


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