Ranchos residents hear report on flooding
A crowd of about 60 Gardnerville Ranchos residents gathered Thursday at the Ranchos Fire Station only to hear that flood repairs were still more than a week from commencing, at best.
Joe Ruman, engineer in charge of preliminary designs for county flood repairs, said the county is yet to work out an agreement with the Washoe Tribe as to how and where the breached Ranchos levee will be rebuilt.
He did say workers have cleared out much debris from the river channel and have improved the channel capacity by making it deeper.
As was mentioned at a previous Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District meeting by Ruman, the levee must be rebuilt as it was so federal aid can be used for the repairs.
Ruman said there are two options for rebuilding the levee. One would see the levee rebuilt close to the river, as it was, and the other would call for construction of the levee farther away from the river, into Indian land.
Although the second option would cost less and allow the flood channel greater capacity, Ruman said the county will pursue the first option because the federal government won’t help pay for the second option. Also, he said the second option would infringe upon tribal land.
Ruman’s admission to pursue the first $1 million option was met by a healthy round of jeers from the Ranchos residents.
“It’s like trying to explain the federal Internal Revenue Service,” said Ruman helplessly. “I don’t understand the logic in that either.”
Tom Manning, state hazard mitigation officer, told the Ranchos residents that levies aren’t all they’re built up to be.
“Levies give people a false sense of security,” said Manning.
Manning said the best solution to the flooding problem experienced in the Ranchos would be for the government to buy the flooded homes and not allow any further homes to be built there.
Director of emergency operations Dick Mirgon said the government, when buying a home, would appraise the value of the residence and then give residents 75 percent of the value of the residence.
“The reality of the situation is they’re probably not going to buy anybody out,” Mirgon said.
“The best way is to get out and go to higher ground,” said Manning, also admitting the likelihood of the government buying anyone’s Ranchos residence was not good.
Another option residents can pursue, said Manning, would be elevation of their homes.
“Jack up the home and raise the foundation,” said Manning, telling resident to call Mirgon’s office to pursue this option, which the government may split on a 75 percent-25 percent option with the residents.
Manning said another option for residents who live in the flood affected areas might be to build a flood wall around their residence.
“The best solution would be upstream storage, which translates to a dam,” said county commission chairman Jacques Etchegoyhen.
However Mirgon said the Smith Valley and Yerington are below dams and those areas still flooded.
Manning said U.S. Sen. Harry Reid is pursuing other options on the national level.
“Sen. Reid is looking to go forward and have special appropriations for flood relief,” said Manning. “He will see if we can bring in some extra money.”
Manning went on to describe a similar situation in Missouri where the local government was given a large sum of money to buy out many flooded homes.
“I’m hoping that will happen,” said Manning.
The meeting was concluded with speculation as to what will happen when this year’s large snowpack melts.
“Nobody knows if the levee is fixed if the area will be OK when runoff comes down,” said Mirgon.
“It depends on how fast it comes down,” said County Manager Dan Holler. “We’ve probably only got 90 days until the spring runoff.”