Floodwaters recede along Jefferson, ice jam remains

Flooding caused by ice jams on the Jefferson River caused problems for a handful of residents south of Silver Star last week. Photo by Steve DiGiovanna

Flooding caused by ice jams on the Jefferson River caused problems for a handful of residents south of Silver Star last week. Photo by Steve DiGiovanna

Flooding along the Jefferson River south of Silver Star has finally subsided after more than a week of high water caused my copious amounts of river ice.

Homes along the Jefferson River in the Jefferson Acres subdivision area were isolated from access and threatened by high waters for most of last week, said Steve DiGiovanna, communications director for Madison County.

Most of the damage from the flood was from water in crawl spaces, DiGiovanna said.

And though the waters have receded, county officials aren’t declaring the emergency is over quite yet. Nearly 10 miles of ice is clogging the Jefferson River from outside of Twin Bridges to Silver Star, said Dan Happel, Madison County Commissioner.

“It (the danger) has passed for now, but we’re just holding our breath because we got close to about 10 miles of pack ice in there,” Happel said. “We’re really at the beck and call of Mother Nature on this one.”

The danger is that even when it’s melting, the ice can jam up and cause flooding, DiGiovanna said.

“The problem is that one thing we’ve learned is that it’s not a predictable thing,” he said.

During the past week, Madison County crews have done some work in the flooded areas, but most of the work was done by residents, DiGiovanna said.

“We sent five people over there and then we supplied the goods and the homeowners made their own sandbags,” he said.

The Hells Canyon Road was also closed due to flooding from the ice jam and it’s reopened now, but drivers have to navigate a rather large pool of water in the road, DiGiovanna said.

Preventing flooding in the future should be something the homeowners in the Jefferson Acres area talk about, Happel said.

“I think they would be well-served if they’ve got a central subdivision group that they get together and look at possible alternatives and then at that point see if there is some grant money available,” he said.

Possible solutions to keeping ice and water at bay may be a levy system, Happel said. The problem in that area, as with much of the land along the Jefferson River, is that it is so flat. When ice dams the river, it doesn’t take much to push water over the banks, he said.

For updates on the ice jam in the Jefferson River, look online at www.madison.homestead.com.

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