Sheridan County Emergency Management talks to Dally about possible springtime flooding

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — Snowpack levels were at a record low in February and March, and then mid-April storms brought feet of snow to the Bighorns. We wondered if this will mean springtime flooding, as temperatures this week may reach the mid-80s. We asked Bruce Edwards, Coordinator for Sheridan County Emergency Management, a few questions and here is what he had to say. *Dally: Extra snow is good for snowpack, but could it mean high rivers?* The weather service (based on their April 20th assessment) is presently estimating the spring flooding potential for Sheridan as “low” (at or less than 20%). Their weekly assessment for May 2-8 is projecting a wet weekend starting Friday night (the 6th) through Sunday with rain or snow, at elevation, possible. *How does Emergency Management prepare for seasonal flooding?* Sheridan County Emergency Management works with resources and points of contacts in the community, many of whom have prior experience and legacy knowledge of flood patterns, to prepare for seasonal flooding. A small network of streams gauges, some with remote telemetry capability, provide monitoring capability for certain locations in the Goose Creek watershed. The County’s Emergency Management office also receives weekly weather situation reports, furnished by the National Weather Service, which includes their latest estimate of snowmelt/runoff projections, by drainage (the county received this week’s situation report this morning). If it becomes necessary, based on weather and stream monitoring assessments, arrangements will be made to pre-position sand bag supplies at select locations in the community. Although folks who have been through prior seasonal flood episodes, know where supply locations are pre-positioned, we will work with the media to communicate where those sites are located. The city and county also uses “Code Red” communication network, to broadcast emergency alerts/text messages to cell/smart phone subscribers. If folks are interested in subscribing, click on the “Code Red” icon under the “Health & Safety” drop-down menu on the County’s web site. *How can the average resident prepare?* Snowmelt and seasonal warming typically results in a gradual increase of runoff in which there is lead time to prepare. When rainstorms of any duration or intensity occur, that triggers a rapid runoff. Use common sense, remain aware of your surroundings (situational awareness), and monitor weather reports. Know whether or not you live in a flood plain; FEMA-approved flood plain map information is available through the County Public Works Office, and ancillary information concerning FEMA’s flood insurance program is also available through FEMA’s web site. Here are some examples that folks can use to prepare for seasonal flooding: in case you are new to the area, do know all the ingress/egress routes in your neighborhood, do you have more than one way out if flooding cuts off your normal route? Do you know where to obtain sand bag supplies? Do you have a “go kit” containing essential items (spare cell phone charges, prescriptions, cash, spare keys, clothing, etc.) do you have an alternate location for your pets or alternate arrangements for livestock? Do you have an alternate rendezvous location if family members become separated, cannot return to the house in a flooding situation, and cell phone are not working? Devise a plan beforehand and make sure everyone in your family is familiar with it. Both the County’s and the FEMA websites, offer additional information concerning preparing for emergencies and disasters. Also, never drive thru water in a flooding situation. As little as six inches of rapidly moving water can knock someone off their feet; rapidly moving water can also dislodge cars from the roadbed. If water gets into the electronics of newer model cars, they can stall and you will be stranded. See what Johnson County is doing after flood water damaged property in Buffalo in 2015. *Feature photo: The Powder River near Arvada/Clearmont / Pitchengine Communities* #dally #news