By Phoebe Coburn
I love this time of year. Last week I skied in a t-shirt, got a sunburn, and rode my bike. The willows have tiny little buds. The chickadees are singing. The roof is dripping. The creek is swelling. Ah, yes, the creek…do you know what else this time of year also brings? The possibility of flooding.
My parents live on Fish Creek Road, roughly two feet above the level of the creek. The last time our yard flooded was 1997, but my parents buy flood insurance every year because here’s the kicker about flooding: it’s kind of unpredictable. Teton County Emergency Management is one of your best flooding resources, and they provided much of the information below. Hopefully all this snow melts just slow enough that the creeks and rivers can handle the load, but in case of a rapid melt or a rain on snow event, here are some things you can do to prepare for flooding:
1. Do you have flood insurance? If you think you might need it, get on it right away because most flood insurance plans take 30 days to go into effect. You might consider taking photos of your home and property too, in case you do have to make a claim. You can learn more about flood insurance at www.floodsmart.gov.
2. Do you see water in weird places? I’ve seen some BIG puddles starting to form around town. If you see something like that, ask yourself what is blocking the water. Which way is downhill and why isn’t the water going there? Is there a blocked storm drain or culvert? Clear any ice jams or debris you have on your property that could dam water. You can also call Emergency Management or Public Works to report significant pooling water or flooding. Also, if you have a private well and you see water accumulating around your well head, that’s a sign you should test your drinking water before drinking it. You can pick up a $50 well test kit at the Teton Conservation District office at 420 W. Pearl Ave.
3. Where will you get information? Text TETON_WY to 888777 to sign up for Teton County Emergency Management’s Nixle notification service. You can also find flood tips on their Facebook page.
4. What will you do if it does flood? Sand and sandbags are available at the Town of Jackson Public Works Yard at 450 W. Snow King Ave. and at the Teton County Road and Levee Yard at 3190 Adams Canyon Dr. You have to fill, transport, and dispose of the sandbags yourself. Here is a good resource on how to use sandbags. Flooding can happen slowly or quickly. The water might be rising steadily and you’ll know a flood is coming, or a rain on snow even could cause flash flooding. No matter what the emergency is, I’ve been told over and over again that my family should have an “emergency kit.” I’ve never actually made one, but I’m actually going to this year. If we did have to leave our house in a hurry, I wouldn’t want to make a bad situation much worse by not having some potentially life-saving things like necessary medications, a way to purify water, and a way to stay warm. Here is a good resource for making a plan to stay safe during and after a flood.