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After 30 inches of weekend snow, Boundary County declares emergency

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 6, 2017, 10:34 p.m.

Several feet of snow prompted Boundary County and Bonners Ferry officials to declare an emergency Monday.

“There’s like, 3 feet in an awful lot of places,” said Michael Meier, director of Boundary County Emergency Management. “The further north you go it looks worse.”

The declaration allows the county to ask for additional state resources to help with snow removal and county officials have done that. The city of Bonners Ferry has not asked for additional resources, however.

Officials were working Monday to clear roadways and are asking residents to travel only if needed.

In Bonners Ferry, Mayor David Sims said the city received “anywhere from 12 to 20 inches” Sunday evening.

He said on a typical snow day, the city hauls away 50 dump trucks of snow, and on a heavy snow day it’s 100.

“We’re at 160 and counting,” he said. “This is pretty unusual.”

The National Weather Service received snowfall readings of 29.5 inches over the weekend in Bonners Ferry and Moyie Springs, said meteorologist Bryce Williams.

Faye Morris, 90, lives northeast of Bonners Ferry alone in a cabin, and said she could hardly get out of her front door Monday morning. She was recently treated for a small stroke, but said she should be OK to start clearing snow soon.

“I’m just back from the hospital, so I didn’t think I should try to do too much shoveling today,” Morris said Monday. “I thought I’d rest again today, then put on my boots and clear me some paths.”

Jane McCrum, a clerk at Bonners Books downtown, said downtown roads looked mostly clear at about 3 p.m. Monday, but when she came into work at 9 a.m. it was a different story.

“There was virtually nobody on the highway,” she said. “We just happened to have a snowplow so we used that to get out of our driveway. We couldn’t walk because the sidewalks had several feet of snow on them.”

Snow removal in Bonners Ferry started at about 3 a.m. Monday and likely won’t completely wrap up until Tuesday, Sims said.

Boundary County School District canceled school Monday. Boundary County and Bonners Ferry officials were asking for volunteers to help shovel school roofs before the snow has a chance to compact and get heavy.

The estimated snow load was about 36 pounds per square foot in Bonners Ferry, the largest snow load in the region, forecasters said.

“The concern is, right now the snow is dry, but if the weather warms up and we get rain, then it’ll start causing problems,” Sims said. “I think it’s great to get the snow removed now while it’s pretty light.”

Northern Lights, which provides power to most Boundary County residents, reported about 1,900 residents were without power at the height of the storm, and the utility had restored power to more than 500 of those people by Monday afternoon.

Staff writer Mike Prager contributed to this report.



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