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Flood forecast: Wet but mild

Thu., May 22, 2008

Swollen rivers are starting to recede in North Idaho.

Now all that water is headed to Spokane.

Authorities are bracing for more possible street closures on the Washington side of the state line, but forecasters say flooding is unlikely to reach any homes.

So far, there’s been no obvious damage to roads or other infrastructure, said Tom Mattern, deputy director of Spokane County Emergency Management.

But flooding has closed at least one street: Upriver Drive from Mission Avenue to Greene Street, according to Spokane police Officer Teresa Fuller.

The Spokane River was about 6 inches over flood stage Wednesday and is expected to rise to about 18 inches above flood stage before it crests Saturday, according to forecasters.

No one is allowed in the Spokane River – not even wearing flotation devices – under an emergency order issued by county commissioners. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office has been authorized to enforce the order, which remains in effect until further notice, officials said.

In Idaho, a flood warning remains in effect for the St. Joe River, which was more than 4 feet over flood stage at St. Maries and expected to crest early this morning.

In Shoshone County, authorities demobilized an emergency command center Wednesday.

“Today was officially the last day,” Sheriff Chuck Reynalds said. “We still have really high water, but it’s going down.”

About a half-dozen federal, state and local agencies participated in flood relief efforts.

“I’m really pleased how well we played in the sandbox together and got this job done for the community,” Reynalds said. “It wasn’t a catastrophic flood, but it could have been a lot worse … We had everything planned, the assets in place, and people’s phone numbers.”

In Burke Canyon in Shoshone County, county workers dug trenches to divert water from plugged culverts that threatened to flood hillside homes.

The upper portions of Old River Road along the Coeur d’Alene River remained closed Wednesday. Part of Riverview Road also remained closed.

In Benewah County, floodwater was still causing problems Wednesday.

“We’ve got water from valley wall to valley wall if you’re not behind a dike,” said Norm Suenkel, the county’s emergency management director.

The five dikes that protect the St. Maries’ community are seeping, which is normal during high water, he said. Some homes have water in their basements.

A truck became stuck in the St. Joe River near Street Creek, Suenkel said. The driver got out uninjured, but his truck was still there Wednesday night.

The Coeur d’Alene River was receding at Prichard, Enaville and Cataldo. Only the Cataldo portion remained at flood stage, officials said. And Lake Coeur d’Alene was about half a foot over flood stage.

The city of East Hope in Bonner County, meanwhile, is asking its 200 residents to conserve water until its diversion dam is fixed.

The dam on Strong Creek was damaged by flooding. The city is temporarily drawing water out of a seasonal creek and the city’s water treatment plant is still working, said Christy Frank, city clerk.


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