Snake River

The Snake River flows under the bridge on East River Road in Firth in late March 2019.

BLACKFOOT – Cody Gordon addressed Bingham County commissioners Friday morning regarding an impending flood study to be held on the Snake River by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The study will reevaluate potential flood risks from the river just three years after large-scale flooding took place in the Thomas area. That flooding caused large financial losses, which FEMA assessed at $134,700.93. The study will aid in assessing future flood problem areas as well as establishing an area that needs to have flood insurance as part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Gordon started with explaining that the study will start in the near future and that the county will be doing what it can to make contact with anyone within 500 feet of the area of study to notify them that there will be different agencies working along the Snake River. Both FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers will be using multiple metrics to indicate and decide where reinforcement and repairs will need to be made to the banks to ensure that they do not wash out, break down, or become overrun when increased river flow takes place.

The facts and the findings will provide a bigger picture of what needs to be done to keep the homes of Bingham County residents safe from the Snake River when it floods. Moreover, these studies will depict the floodplain and put it on a clearly defined map for people to be able to look at.

Once on this map, it will also help mortgage companies understand what types of insurance they may require when lending to someone. Commissioner Mark Bair made it a point to state that where he lives he is required to have flood insurance from his mortgage lender, and that the increased cost on his insurance is over $1,000 a year with a hefty deductible.

Once the study is completed and any actions that are required are planned and completed, the Snake River floodplain will be up to date in the FEMA database for Bingham County and will allow for increased flood insurance programs to be developed for the area. The Army Corps of Engineers helps educate those involved, interprets the data before and after the study regarding the potential erosion effects and losses, and other statistics around the way the river functions under normal and flood stages.

The help from the Army Corps of Engineers is federally funded through FPMS efforts, or if requested to take part by another federal agency, the cost is shared on a 100 percent cost recovery basis.