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Latah County commissioners declare disaster emergency

Latah County commissioners approved a resolution Wednesday declaring a disaster emergency in Latah County due to flooding and severe damage caused by rain and snow.

“Such disaster emergency requires all local agencies to cooperate in the effort to rehabilitate and replace public property and to avert and lessen the threat and impact of said flooding and related perils, and the Latah County Board of Commissioners calls upon all governmental entities in Latah County to assist in abatement of said threat,” the resolution said.

In the resolution county commissioners requested other state and federal officers, including Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, make declarations and provide assistance to the county as are required and permitted by law.

The declaration is in effect for seven days unless the commissioners continue or renew the period.

Latah County cities have been sending the commissioners their expected costs for infrastructure damages and other expenses due to the heavy snow and rain.

In an email from Genesee Clerk and Treasurer Karyn Wright to Commissioner Dave McGraw, Wright said the city’s newest water reservoir sustained $110,000 in damage from the cold winter. She said the water inside the tank froze and formed ice cubes the size of small cars. The cubes fell from the pipes at the top of the tank and destroyed the piping inside the tank, Wright said.

The reservoir is offline and waiting to be repaired, she wrote to McGraw in the email.

McGraw told the Daily News the city of Genesee could potentially receive financial help from the state to repair the water reservoir because of the disaster declaration.

The potential for more damaging weather remains, as a flood warning continues for the Palouse River near Potlatch until late tonight, according to the National Weather Service in Spokane.

The river is expected to rise to nearly 17.5 feet – 2.5 feet above flood stage – by early this morning before falling below flood stage this afternoon.