Flooding a disaster for some residents
August 10, 2015
July's flooding in northwestern Carson Valley didn't rise to the level of a disaster by federal standards, but that didn't mean that it wasn't a disaster for the people who were affected.
A score of residents excoriated commissioners after hearing a presentation on the flooding on Thursday.
One recent resident called for the county board to resign.
Flooding the week of July 8 damaged 162 properties and did $2.2 million in damage to public infrastructure.
Emergency Manager East Fork Chief Tod Carlini reported major damage to four homes and minor damage to seven homes under federal criteria.
He said that under Federal Emergency Management Agency rules, the county would have had to show at least $3.8 million in damage to public infrastructure or more than 170 homes with major damage.
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Carlini said the storm on July 8 dropped water over all three basins that drain into the neighborhood, calling it a "perfect storm."
"With respect to flash flooding that's what happened," he said. "The system was basically overwhelmed."
County commissioners declared a disaster within an hour of the first rainfall, but Carlini said that doesn't mean federal assistance will kick in.
"The misconception here is that we don't automatically qualify for FEMA assistance," he said. "It's a very difficult situation for folks to understand."
A state damage assessment team was in Johnson Lane in time for more flooding on July 9.
Carlini said that 53 percent of the residents affected in the 2014 flooding were affected again this year.
Requests to the Army Corps of Engineers for a temporary flood control structure and a drainage master plan for the Johnson Lane area as a result of last year's floods were both denied.
Downs Drive resident Bryan Smith told commissioners he moved there six months ago, and was unaware of the flooding.
"I'd like to see all of you resign and get some hydro-engineers in here," he said. "I'm very upset at the county commissioners who seem to do nothing. Residents have talked to you for 20 years and you've done nothing. Our entire property was an island with water flowing down the entire length."
Tom Halton said in the almost 15 years he's lived off East Valley Road he's been flooded seven times.
"The sheriff's office did a fantastic job, and so did the fire department, they are public servants. I wish I could say that for you."
While firefighters and sheriff's deputies received a lot of praise for their work in the flooding, several residents credited Iraq War veteran Daniel Tingle with aiding them when the waters came.
Johnson Lane resident Daniel Babb said Tingle helped save his home from the flooding.
Babb lives near where Johnson Lane wash intersects with the road.
"This year my garage and all my property was wiped out," Babb said Thursday. "It did not get into my house, thanks to the help of a young man on a tractor. Daniel Tingle was cleaning people's property for free. He is not only an American hero, but a guardian angel for a lot of poor people."
Sunshine Road resident Anne Jeton said that Sunrise Pass Road Wash generated almost twice the flow of the 1994 flood.
She said her property was flooded on July 6 and July 8, when water broke through a berm and through to her front yard, dropping 1-2 feet of sediment and drowning half her chickens. She said water within inches of entering her home.
A culvert installed for the drainage of Sunshine Wash is inadequate, she said, as were the comments she received from county staff after the 2014 flooding.
Commissioner Barry Penzel, who lives in the neighborhood, said the flood hit his Jeep.
"The volume of water that was coming at me was 700 cubic feet per second," he said. "That's really fast. I agree 100 percent that the priority is storm water and storm water control. I think part of the problem is that we need to go back up into the huge area above Skyline Ranch to slow it down first."
Commissioner Doug Johnson said the land above Johnson Lane in the Pine Nuts is included in the Douglas County Lands Bill.
Should the bill be approved by Congress, it would give Douglas land to build a flood control structure above Johnson Lane.