No Sympathy For Riverside Residents

The GUARDIAN has noted some readers and radio listeners seem less than sympathetic toward those whose homes are threatened by recent flood waters in Boise and Eagle.

The photos were taken off Park Center Blvd. at Spring Meadow Lane. The original developer was ordered to provide Greenbelt parking and access as a condition of approval for the subdivision. rock path vertical.jpg
He complied–three handicap parking spots and a crushed stone pathway for wheel chairs! There are also onerous signs warning of no parking and towing.

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The following guest comments probably explain some of the negative sentiments which for the most part were created by development along the flood plain.

“So just how much are all of us who love the Boise River and all of the creeks in Idaho going to have to pay to help out those whose homes are flooding?

We have grown up watching the farmer in Eagle flood out each spring so have not built on the flood plain.

How much do the developers of those communities have to pay….or do they just smile as they keep their fat bank accounts at the expense of the fools who “just love the river” and have to live next to it.

Do you remember when some of the home owners in the Park Center area got into a big snit over the green belt going between their property and the river?
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Yes, I guess I do have a few hard feelings toward the people who live next to the river because they have been less than kind about the idea that everyone enjoys the Boise River. It’s just that not everyone thinks a few own the right to exclude others from enjoying it. Nor does everyone think the river should be controlled. It’s a part of nature and nature should not be controlled. It’s not natural and dikes break.”

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Serious flood damage was just averted on the south channel of the Boise River at Eagle Island – by earth-moving equipment that was nearby, carving subdivisions out of formerly untamed lowlands. Ironic, isn’t it? (As soon as the water recedes, they’ll surely start pushing dirt again, preparing those new river-front lots for eager buyers.)

    I’ve gotta think Mayor Merrill saw this coming – she’s an old-timer, like many of us. She has been diligent and high-profile about holding the hands of her suffering citizens; has she been as diligent about warning them of the folly of building all those new houses in the river bed? (I s’pose if a goodly number of New Orleans residents can rebuild on land that’s below sea level, there’s no reason why Eagle people shouldn’t build where the river frequently runs, huh?)

    Regarding the “Wildland Reserves” … I must just be a dumb ol’ city slicker, but I’ve NEVER understood why all those River Run houses don’t bother the critters at all… but if somebody rolled through on a bike, or temporarily parked their car alongside the road, our furry and feathered friends would all up and leave. I wish I’d paid more attention to Marlin Perkins!

  2. Don’t you just love developers?
    Well, gee, somebody should. I mean, everyone needs love.
    Still, not all developers are evil. It’s just that 99 percent make the other one percent look bad.
    Too bad we don’t have any city, county or state governments in this here territory. Surely they would never allow construction in obvious flood plains, or where it would make it difficult for other people to enjoy the rivers.

  3. HH (from Moxie on Vista)
    Apr 17, 2006, 12:48 am

    You have some very nice picture of the Boise River doing what comes naturally – flooding. Very impressive shots of former yards and driveways, as well as stone pathways which will never be used by wheel chairs. (shame!)

    Since I live on the Bench I look out upon the foothills everyday. Boy are they ever greening up!!! As soon as the clouds part and the river drops and there is a bright day you may wish to turn your camera to the beautiful green of the Boise Foothills. Go on up there and shoot the long green grass. Get some great “before” shots of this summer’s fuel for possible summer foothill fires. This may help to alert people to some of the responsibilities and dangers of living in the foothills.

    I do know a few people, foothill dwellers, who go out with their teenagers each summer and do hard physical labor to dig safe zones between their property and the dry grass of the foothills. This is hard digging, but they don’t want to force the firefighters to have to choose between saving their homes or stopping the spread of the fire in the grasses of the Boise front. These folks are not new comers to the valley. They love this area and do not want to see the surrounding areas burnt off.

    So all of this spring rain is not just today’s flooding of rivers and creeks, it is also fuels this coming summer’s fire season in the hills and mountains of Idaho.

    ED NOTE–The official term for homes in the foothills is “Urban Wilderness Interface.” You gotta love bureaucrats!

  4. I heard a rumor that there is going to be yet another subdivsion scarring the boise front to the east of quail ridge. is it true? Is there any political talk of getting a “no build” ordinance for the Boise front or resricting the size of homes to a small number of square feet?

    I just cringe every time I see a new shining window reflecting the sunset’s sun up on the foothills and new houses on the way to Bogus Basin. How is it really any different from the folks who build in floodplains when affluent people build in a fire zone? when a few people are allowed to build up there because of their real estate slush funds for exploitation I think it is against everything Boise stands for.

    Boise is supposed to be taking a different direction than other past boomtowns. No growth makes sense to me, repair what we already have, rebuild in Boise don’t ruin the little open space that we have.

  5. Is it any wonder? In a community that prides itself on being a, “Red State” and seriously adherent to the whole concept of, “personal responsibility” I find it odd to say the least that these same folks are looking to government to bail them out and control the very people who sold them a bill of goods in the first place.

    These folks expect to have it both ways. They want to criticize their government – state, local and federal – for not doing an adequate job on the flooding all the while damning that same government for all sorts of crimes and misdemeanors.

    I say, they should have known about this flooding possibility. If they don’t like it, then they should sell their properties and move to higher ground.

  6. The water table on Eagle Island is just below the surface in most areas. So, many of these houses not only have it coming at them from the river, but there is a real problem with seepage in crawl spaces also.

    In fact in one development between Star and Eagle, they are adding up to 4 feet of fill to get out of the floodplain and get a better handle on foundation seepage. The only problem is when the developer does that, it just diverts the natural flow of the flood waters and makes it someone else’s problem.

  7. I think Eagle knew the risks involved in building in the flood plain — which is why they include a requirement called “no net loss” in what are the most stringent engineering guidelines in Idaho for subdivisions developed along rivers and creeks. That requirement means that loss of land where water would accumulate or flow naturally (due to adding fill dirt in those areas) must be replaced with deeper channels and “storage” like lakes and ponds to assure water still moves or accumulates as before.

    The interior of not one house was flooded during the recent episodes where dikes were breached on Dry Creek and the south fork of the Boise River because the developments were designed to allow water to accumulate and flood the lowlands, back yards and streets instead of the structures themselves — which are required by Eagle to sit at least two feet above the highest flood level recorded in the past 100 years.

    Even when the unusually high water levels were encountered when Dry Creek and the Boise River flowed outside their normal channels, water got as high as the foundations in two cases, but didn’t get inside where damage could be done. (Those who decided to build fish ponds, decks, a gazebo, fences or other “enhancements” in the flood plain shouldn’t legitimately complain about the damage received when water comes through those areas — although they still do).

    Eagle may be getting the publicity right now for its flooding streets, playgrounds and yards when dikes unexpectedly break, but no one will be paying much attention to what happens down river when “the big one” arrives and many of the homes in much of Garden City and large portions of Boise start filling with Boise River water. Eagle sure isn’t perfect, but at least its previous planning avoided what could have been a much worse scenario — one that is more and more likely elsewhere along the Boise River as this year’s much desired snow pack begins to melt and flow.

    As for Mayor Merrill, you only gave her half the credit she deserves. Not only does she know as an old timer about things like this coming, but she’s been one of those insisting that strict flood plain ordinances be developed and followed in Eagle to minimize the potential damage. And, in addition, she hosted a town hall meeting to warn residents how to respond to potential Boise River floods — holding it the night before the south channel dike was breached. (That’s why so many people were prepared to help with moving dirt and sandbagging in response).

  8. Sanctimonious Stephen writes about how well Eagle is prepared for all of this.

    If Eagle is so prepared, then why are the citizens whining?

  9. Ferris, just because their houses didn’t flood, doesn’t mean they won’t whine! They are whining because: Their Khaki’s were ruined while wading to their car; their Koi swam away; their landscaping and 2K dollar children’s play set was washed down river; no one told them that being right next to a moving waterway might result in flooding; and now their flood insurance is going to increase. I think we are all a bunch of whiners by nature. I’ll include myself in that …because, you know…I post on here and much of it is whining about one thing or another. Never confuse a reason to whine with the ability to whine. No correlation…None!

  10. Tam – I too love to whine. Camembert goes best with it, or maybe a nice stilton or Cambezola.

    My rant is directed at the hypocrisy of it all. These folks are having Limberger with their whining and it stinks to high heaven. Their basements are dry, but their belfry’s are full of bats.

  11. For some good perspective on rivers and flooding, check out the this video:

    It talks about the ten “Most Endangered” rivers of 2006, and how bad flood control projects are an ongoing problem across the country.

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