The flood mitigation town hall meeting drew a large crowd to the Churchill County Administration Building chambers Tuesday afternoon, when officials gave a brief but thorough overview and answered questions.
The Truckee-Carson Irrigation District, Churchill County sheriff, Mayor Ken Tedford, commissioners, Nevada Department of Transportation and others were in attendance including Churchill County Incident Commander Bill Lawry.
Lawry and his colleagues touched on each project in the effort from reinforcing the Lahontan Dam and clearing the Carson River to building the weir, cutting the Bafford Lane Bridge — and still ongoing, “The Big Dig.”
Officials also addressed topics and questions including sandbagging assistance, septic tanks, insurance details and large animals.*
“It’s going be a long crisis,” the mayor stressed when he thanked the community members for coming out.
With the highest snowpack since records have been kept in the Sierra Nevada mountain range for this area’s watershed, officials said historically the major runoff is about May 10-June 10 — but they advised, though, preparation and awareness should not falter.
Lawry and the Sheriff Ben Trotter also stressed public safety, keeping away from the river and canals, off private property and away from the mitigation construction areas. Trotter added it’s illegal to be in the canals; he also said almost every year (even in normal conditions) someone dies, and strongly advised against floating the river this year.
The incident commander couldn’t stress enough the need to have at-risk property owners use sandbags and use them properly. Assistance is available for the elderly, disabled and anyone else who needs it. Call 775-423-4177 to coordinate sandbag delivery and setup. Online, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has instructions for sandbagging methods as well as other preparation measures.
One resident reinforced the need to secure items that could float including very large objects, propane tanks and woodpiles.
County Emergency Manager Mike Heidemann emphasized now is the time and not to wait any longer to find out if flood insurance is wise and obtain coverage if needed. He added the national average is $40,000 in coverage, which can be an affordable amount for the year.
Use this shortened link to check property flood zoning by entering the property address: http://arcg.is/2pmimj5.
It was also advised that at-risk residents with a septic tank pump it halfway due to potential flooding issues and to do follow-up pumps and leach line maintenance based on the household’s number of people and usage. It was additionally noted to check crawl spaces now and then and leave open or use fans if necessary to avoid dangerous mold.
Rusty Jardine, TCID manager, said the main strategy right now is to pump out 3,000 cubic square feet per second from the Lahontan Reservoir the entire month of May. He and others reviewed how they started preparing as early as possible and are putting water everywhere they can as well as monitoring all the important points and detailing deep action plans.
Commissioner Pete Olsen sang the unsung heroes’ praises including the Bureau of Reclamation, NDOT and the crews and agencies for all working so well together. He added money isn’t an issue; safety is the priority and the county will seek reimbursement wherever possible.
It was reiterated the area is receiving 250 percent above a normal water year and what’s coming is an “absolute monster,” Jardine said.
Lawry said if everything works perfectly with no weather events and no breakage, things will be fine — but cautioned “it can go to hell on us real quick.”
He said the goal, of course, is to keep everybody dry but some will probably get wet unfortunately.
Olsen added officials and the community would be able to receive notice days in advance.
*Large animals if needing to be evacuated will first go to the Churchill County Fairgrounds.