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Pocatello prepares for possible flooding

A lot of snow, warming temperatures and a lot of rain – all are ingredients for potential flooding.

In response, the city of Pocatello is trying to be proactive and prepare for possible flooding. The city wants to be ready just in case the worst should happen.

Tom Kirkman, street operations manager with the city, said all city crews are out uncovering drains from the snow so the water has an outlet to go to. Crews are also cutting ice out of curb lines and putting down sand where they can.

But Kirkman said some areas are just tough for the city crews to clear.

“We’ve got issues were we had roads that had a little bit of a snow floor and we’ve gotten water on top of that snow floor and it’s made it very slick,” Kirkman said. “A lot of those there’s not a lot we can do about that because the water’s too deep for sand or salt to work so we’re trying to plow it to cut that back a little bit.”

So why are storms like the one Sunday through Monday potentially more hazardous than other rainstorms?

“We call these events a ‘rain and snow event,'” Kirkman said. “And what makes this draw attention is when we get heavy rains, where we live in a valley, and the ground is frozen, the rain can’t soak into the ground so it runs downhill.”

Because of the potential for flooding, other city departments are prepping crews too. Other departments, like the fire department, met Monday morning to discuss planning should flooding occur. One main area of focus was on emergency response.

“We’ve got the emergency operation center set up, just in case things so real crazy and we’re just hoping that it doesn’t,” said Chief David Gates, with Pocatello Fire Department.

While the city preps, home owners can prepare for flooding too. Gates said to keep water out of homes and basements, you can build a wall of sandbags around weak spots to stop water from getting in the home.

Or if you don’t want to use sandbags, you can use mother nature.

“Honestly, the snow actually makes a great dyke,” Gates said. “If you have a bunch of snow on your property, and you want to redirect water flow, big piles of snow actually do a pretty good job.”

Kirkman said if you do see any drains or anything within the city that are having problems, let street operations know so they are aware of it. You can contact the street department at 208-234-6250.

The street department also has sandbags available for people who need them.

Both Kirkman and Gates said it’s important people remember to slow down because the roads are slicker than they look, especially with water over a layer of ice.

Some more tips for flooding from the fire department are also included below.

Basic Safety Tips:
– Turn around, don’t drown!
– Avoid walking or driving through flood waters
– Just six inches of moving water can knock you down and two feet of water can sweep your vehicle away
– If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground. Flash floods are the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.
– If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
– Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.

Flood Watch
– Turn on your TV/radio. You will receive the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
– Know where to go. You may need to reach higher ground quickly and on foot.
– Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include a flashlight, batteries, cash and first-aid supplies.

Protecting Your Home
– Bring in outdoor furniture and move important indoor items to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage.
– Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You cold be electrocuted.
– If instructed, turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve. This helps prevent fires and explosions.

More tips and information can be found at

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