Idaho governor declares emergency from flooding

Reuters News
Posted: May 27, 2011 4:13 PM
Idaho governor declares emergency from flooding

By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Idaho's governor on Friday declared an emergency because of flooding and high water conditions expected to wreak havoc across the state.

Record rains and the melting of mountain snows measured at all-time highs have caused rivers and streams in the Northern Rockies and Northern Plains to breach their banks, submerging houses, damaging roads and washing out bridges.

"As we continue to experience this growing threat of flooding it requires our proactive attention and continued vigilance," Governor Butch Otter said Friday in a statement accompanying the disaster declaration.

High water in central Idaho is blamed for the disappearance and likely death of a woman who authorities said was swept into the Salmon River on Wednesday evening.

State emergency officials said the rising waters of the Snake River in eastern Idaho have eroded banks, saturated farmlands and placed bridges at risk.

Otter is the fourth governor in as many days to declare a flood emergency or warn of coming floodwaters.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer on Monday declared a statewide emergency because of floods that have caused two deaths, two disappearances and the evacuation of more than 400 people.

On Friday, Wyoming's governor directed the Wyoming National Guard and the state's emergency management agency to deploy teams to help counties face the threat of floods.

That came one day after the governor of South Dakota warned residents of the capital city of Pierre to expect flooding from an overflow of the Missouri River.

State emergency declarations free up funding and other resources for local governments battling disasters.

Officials in all four states say flooding this season has the potential to be the most severe in recent history. The flooding in the Rocky Mountains follows major flooding in the Midwest and South along the swollen Mississippi River.

Those reports come as forecasters are predicting additional rain for the region.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)