Sand is becoming a hot commodity in Kootenai County as rivers swell and lake levels rise. Hayden Lake has breached the dike near Honeysuckle Beach and Lake Coeur d’Alene is at flood level.
Residents have been experiencing flooding at their houses, especially those who live near the rivers. The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release Sunday that people living along the Spokane River west of Highway 95 in particular should be monitoring rising water levels.
The sheriff’s office said to call (208) 446-1775 for sand or sandbags to prevent flooding. The press release said it’s OK to call 911 if it’s after hours. Also, flood damage to homes and businesses should be reported to the Kootenai County Office of Emergency Management at email@example.com.
“I haven’t seen it this high before,” said Wanda Benson, a Hayden resident of 13 years, as she walked along Honeysuckle Beach. “This is where we picnic and take a walk around the docks, we obviously can’t do that today.”
The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Kootenai County that will stay in effect until Wednesday.
The warning said that due to recent rain and snowmelt, not only will there be small stream and field flooding, but many rivers in North Idaho and northeast Washington will be close to or above flood stage this week.
“The spring snowmelt runoff in lakes and rivers is dangerously cold and can be life threatening for those that come into contact with the Water,” the National Weather Service posted on its website, adding for people to take appropriate precaution. “Be aware of large debris in the river. High water levels can push logs and other large debris into the river...increasing the danger to people and boats.”
The flood warning also asked drivers not to cross flooded areas and that one foot of water on a road can move most vehicles off the road.
Press meteorologist Randy Mann said Coeur d’Alene has already seen twice as much precipitation in March than is normal. Mann said typical precipitation in March is 1.94 inches — Coeur d’Alene is already at 4.38 inches. The record amount of precipitation for March, according to Mann, is 7.51 inches, but he doesn’t think we’ll reach those numbers.
“Lower elevations and in rural areas, water is up to people’s homes and people have been posting pictures of stop signs almost under water,” Mann said, noting that Lake Coeur d’Alene is supposed to reach its peak level early this week and then start to go down.
“If you’re near a river, there’s lots of flooding; if you’re downtown, you’re OK,” he said.
To be placed on the volunteer sandbagging list, the sheriff’s office is asking people to contact the Kootenai County Local Emergency Planning Committee at (208) 446-1779.