Wrapping the Sponge In Plastic

The following is an unscientific GUARDIAN take on the current flood threat in the Boise area.

While the threat of flooding and the potential for damage is usually focused on the Boise River, and quite often the Eagle area, the Wednesday breach of Dry Creek and problems in Boise County showed us the small streams are the most likely to overflow their banks.Eagle Flood.jpg

If we think of the foothills and even the valley as a gigantic sponge in 1990 we have to think today in terms of a sponge wrapped in plastic–no longer able to absorb water, causing it to run in one direction–downhill. The “plastic wrap” in southwest Idaho is in the form of rooftops, streets and asphalt paving–acres and acres of it.

The net effect is torrents of water in volumes no one has ever seen. If the small streams are filled with even a moderate amount of rain combined with high temperature runoff we can expect to hear the sirens wailing near the high end view lot homes. Those disaster wonks who never get to do anything will be in 7th Heaven.

Our sources at the National Weather Service tells us that we have had “significant amounts of rain,” but no records have been broken in the past few days. They note the stream flows are extremely high and the Snake is running at breakneck speed.Eagle 1.jpg

Here are some points to ponder:

–How about some sympathy for the guy in Eagle who ruined his new “Nordstrom Pants” while rescuing his Audi car?

–Dry Creek isn’t. Why do you think they call it a “creek?” Dry Creek is an oxymoron–like “smart growth or good rap music.”

–Floods are good for the economy. The ACHD workers get overtime, repairmen get work, and landscapers have jobs.

–Will insurance cover the $5,000 for the pet fish lost to floodwaters by the guy in Eagle? Is he the one with Nordstrom Pants?

–Who let those people build homes “streamside” along Mores Creek south of Idaho City?

–Callers to KBOI am 670 had no sympathy for any of those suffering from flooding. We have even heard people waiting to see the houses come sliding off the view lots in the foothills. Not very neighborly attitudes to the newcomers.

–When the farm at North Eagle and Floating flooded all the time how come it was “no big deal.”

–Why did Brandi Smith of KIVI-6 wade in the flood water wearing her nice skirt? Her mom must be furious.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Someone today asked “did those people (brookwood residents) know they could be flooded?”. My response was gee, did they go to High School? If the water is up there, and we are down here, we can be flooded. Anyone who demands to know why their retention pond overflowed, is on glue. That property wasn’t allowed development for years because of the flood problems. I don’t know who pulled what strings, but they finally were approved and now they all know what the 20 year flood plain means. (actuatlly I can’t recall if it was 10 or 20) The next thing to watch for, as our host eloquently explains the foothills issues, is for all the Fill Dirt known as Quail Ridge to come slipping down the hill. If you don’t want to flood don’t buy bottom land. Those of us who have lived here for 40 plus years recall lots of areas under water that are now covered with homes.

  2. Ferris Beuller
    Apr 6, 2006, 11:24 pm

    Now let me get this straight…

    People move to Eagle which is OBVIOUSLY in a flood plain and build big sub divisions with huge houses in places anyone with two brain cells could tell will fill with water if given half a chance are asking for our sympathy?!?!?!?!?

    C’mon already! April Fools has come and gone.

  3. Yep, I’m waiting for the houses on the hill above me to come sliding down. Not that I’m unfriendly to the idiot neighbors who created a homesite by having a bulldozer slice off the top of a hill and push it over the edge to make a nice big lot (half of it freshly piled dirt -duh!,) but because I could use all that free lumber, roofing material etc. that should land down here.
    My house won’t slide down, though, cuz I’m at the bottom of a big hill — and, yep, masses of mud, brush etc. are flowing down the side of that mushy monster.
    Nope, I’m not expecting — or asking — for any sympathy. I knew the hill was there when I bought this place, so when the slides began, I went out and used some concrete chunks that were lying around, plus some bags of crushed lava rock, plus some of the big chunks of dirt that had already come down to build a small levee, then dug a ditch to direct the water past my house an into a field where it can soak in (Yep, there really is a field with no houses, shopping centers or pavement on it — and as long a my shotgun doesn’t wash away, it’ll stay that way.)
    The law of nature is pretty clear: if you’re up on the hill, eventually you’ll come down. If you’re at the bottom of the hill, it’ll come down to you.
    So be prepared — and it’s a lot easier to build levees and dig ditches than to try to stop a sliding house, I figure.
    Anybody who doesn’t accept those possibilities had best go live in New York City, where there are no hills and no dirt.
    — gp

  4. Apparently everybody but the [Dry] creekside homeowners has seen this day coming for years. And obviously there’s no regulation preventing developers from slappin’ up houses in the flood plain. (Or if there is, our city/county fathers have chosen to ignore it with a nudge and a wink.)

    Being a lifelong Boise resident, I can remember as a kid wading, Brandi Smith -style, in the flood waters washing over the Fort Boise recreation area, after it overflowed Cottonwood Creek. I can remember helping shovel mud out of friends’ basements in Boise’s east end. I can remember a friend off Eagle Road, near the south channel of the Boise River, expending considerable time, effort, and expense EVERY SPRING, to berm up his property with dirt and blue plastic tarps, and he still had water lapping at his front porch. (He finally sold out to developers when they offered him a nice piece of land on higher ground AND a wheelbarrow full of cash. Now that same property is occupied by $5 millon or so of pretentious river-front palaces.)

    Compassion and empathy are desirable character traits – I’m trying to feel for the low-lying newcomers, but it’s difficult. I saw a guy on the news lamenting “Why didn’t we get some kind of warning?” (May have been the guy in the shopping-mall chinos; I didn’t notice his pants.) Dude! The flood-plain records are public domain. Buy yourself a clue! And what would you have done if the FEMA helicopter had flown over a couple hours before the water went high, warning everybody with a megaphone? Speaking of FEMA, the missus says she saw some “victims” on the local news, asking why FEMA hadn’t stepped in.

    So – this whole thing is BUSH’S FAULT, just like everything else! This never happened on Bubba’s watch! (Is it a racial thing? Bush obviously hates white, upper-middle-class suburbanites.)

  5. When I was a Statesman reporter in the 60s I did articles related to the flood plain with the county planning director who was a character. There may have actually been sandbagging during that time. I remember Mayor Jay Amyx being quite newsworthy regarding city efforts to prevent flooding. I lived just south of the potential flood plain. Good for Ch. 6 reporter wading in to get the story. That’s how Katie Couric got her start, maybe?

  6. lib.Redneck
    Apr 7, 2006, 10:12 am

    ITS GEORGE BUSH’s fault!!! These people are flooded out and the federal government is not helping them. Quick send in some trailer houses. These people didn’t know this could happen.

  7. Okay, okay, everyday this just gets better. The best quote last night from the 10:00pm Ch.6 crew was about the guy who lost his “PET” fish (oxymoron) in the “Brookwood” flood. “Haas just hopes the fish swim back home” (moron, minus the oxy). I’m telling you, does being rich suck your brain straight out of your head, or what?

  8. Ferris Beuller
    Apr 7, 2006, 3:32 pm

    tam…ouch! I just finished laughing my butt off! Thanks for the bright spot this afternoon.

    It makes me think I should get into sales and make Eagle my territory. I could sell them just about anything.

    Idea Flash!

    Instead of Homing Pigeons, I am going to go door to door in the Brookwood selling Homing Fish. Or, better yet, electric fencing for their fish!

    I am cringing at what could be next…

  9. Count me among those without sympathy. There’s a reason we call it PLANNING and zoning. We know these events are coming so why do we act so surprised when they occur? This is nothing. I’m waiting for the time the water spills over the floodgates at Lucky Peak, which will happen in the next generation, if not this year. Watch this website. http://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/boipaytea.cfm

  10. everyone's favorite
    Apr 7, 2006, 5:55 pm

    Tam, the “pet fish” quote wasn’t from Channel 6. It was from Channel 7. Try not to heap everything on one source.

    ED NOTE–That’s what happens when you get too many channels going at the same time!

  11. everyone's favorite
    Apr 7, 2006, 5:55 pm

    Tam, the “pet fish” quote wasn’t from Channel 6. It was from Channel 7. Try not to heap everything on one source.

    ED NOTE–That’s what happens when you get too many channels going at the same time!

  12. everyone's favorite
    Apr 7, 2006, 5:55 pm

    Tam, the “pet fish” quote wasn’t from Channel 6. It was from Channel 7. Try not to heap everything on one source.

    ED NOTE–That’s what happens when you get too many channels going at the same time!

  13. everyone's favorite
    Apr 7, 2006, 5:55 pm

    Tam, the “pet fish” quote wasn’t from Channel 6. It was from Channel 7. Try not to heap everything on one source.

    ED NOTE–That’s what happens when you get too many channels going at the same time!

  14. everyone's favorite
    Apr 7, 2006, 5:55 pm

    Tam, the “pet fish” quote wasn’t from Channel 6. It was from Channel 7. Try not to heap everything on one source.

    ED NOTE–That’s what happens when you get too many channels going at the same time!

  15. You think the current floods are bad?
    Wait until Lucky Peak Dam crumbles, either from age or from the fault line that runs nearby underground.
    Of course, its never happened before so it never will, right?

  16. I’m just trying to expand my knowledge here:
    –Are Coy considered an exotic species by Idaho Fish & Game?
    –Or are they just over priced, even trashier looking yuppie carp?
    –Should F&G fine this bozo for introducing them into the Boise river?
    –When they become established and mate with the wild carp is Coy a word that will offend ethnic sensitivities so someone feels the need to come up with another yucker like “pike minnow?”
    –How many of these “flood victims” are really Idahoans?
    –Other than the cynical entertainment factor, who really cares about these poor yo-yos?

    During “normal” years, flood plains FLOOD as they have done for recorded history. What a concept!

    ED NOTE ANSWERS: Yes, yes, no intent (act of God), perhaps, ?, banks holding the mortgages.

  17. You people are complete jerks.

    God forbid someone who grew up in Idaho lives in there. Then who could you resent?

  18. Tam: I know the guy who lost his “pet” fish. He was being funny. (And probably thinking about how much landscaping was lost – all of which he did himself.)

    ED NOTE–Well, that takes a lot of her fun out of his misery! Party pooper.

  19. Heard someone on the council was searching for a way to help the little feller with Nordstrom knickers. Maybe if we promised designer water with the next flood, he would feel more at home.

    As for the Audi, make a neighborly donation to the Coy guy. He could use it as fish habitat when he rebuilds his pond.

  20. The funny thing is the subdivisions being built that are already flooding. They shouldn’t be able to sell any of these upcoming houses.


  21. One of my favorite environmental bumper stickers :

    Well, somehow folks (not you Guardian) just don’t get it. Pavement and houses are fine, but Mother Nature is going to do what she does no matter what we do and if we err, we pay for it.

    For years I have been waiting for the homes on The Mesa to start sliding away. I am amazed. If this year doesn’t cause any movement, then I guess that they are here to stay and I will laugh at myself for thinking they would follow California homes.

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