Moscow’s Paradise Creek reached 11.4 feet Tuesday night, surpassing the previous high of 11.26 feet during the 1996 flood.
Tyler Palmer, acting director of the Moscow Public Works Department, said the volatile creek made history just before 10 p.m.
He said the 11.4-foot measurement was according to the city’s measuring stick on the Perimeter Drive bridge near Guy Wicks Field. The official U.S. Geological Survey monitoring station at the creek was not working properly Tuesday night, he said.
While Moscow streets were reopened by 10 a.m. Wednesday, some residents were still confronted with standing water in their yards and homes.
David White was pumping water from his East D Street home and yard. He said his two gas furnaces were submerged, tools and other items in his garage were damaged and about 1 foot of water entered his crawl space.
His next-door neighbor was possibly in worse shape, as her garage probably took on 3 to 4 feet of water, White said.
The city of Moscow and the Latah County Commissioners issued disaster emergency declarations Wednesday, which allow the city and county to seek outside assistance to help with damages sustained during the flood.
“I was very happy with our staff’s response and with the community response,” Palmer said. “I think that definitely helped mitigate what could have been a far more impactful event. If you’d come to me on Sunday and told me, ‘Hey, you’re going to have on Tuesday night a flood event that will exceed the water levels of the ’96 flood,’ I would have anticipated far more extensive damage than what we’ve seen.”
He said city facilities did not sustain significant damages.
Culvert crossings on Sixth Street just west of Mountain View Road were of most concern, Palmer said.
He said engineers performed structural analysis Wednesday, and further analysis and possible structural work may be done in the area.
Flooding severely affected Hog Creek, which caused the city shop to flood as well as areas around North Polk Street, intersections at East D and North Main streets and West A and North Jackson streets.
“We had not seen those kind of volumes in Hog Creek,” Palmer said.
He said several dozen homes and some businesses sustained at least minor flooding, but he was unsure Wednesday the financial impact the flood had on city property and homes.
City crews worked at the Water Reclamation and Reuse Facility to make sure residents’ sewers did not back up because of the high quantity of water flowing into the sewer system.
While the hydraulic capacity of the reuse facility was exceeded, Palmer said no sewage spilled into waterways.
The quick rise of the water levels Tuesday was a shock to Palmer and experts. Palmer said the National Weather Service forecast for Tuesday called for Paradise Creek to rise but not reach flood stage.
He said the fairly consistent rain the last several days, which saturated the soil and made it more difficult to absorb water, had already contributed to a rise in water levels at Paradise Creek, South Fork of the Palouse River and Hog Creek.
Tuesday’s heavy downpour was the last ingredient to the flood recipe.
Palmer said if not for flood mitigation measures taken in response to the 1996 flood, like the overflow channel along Mountain View Road, Tuesday’s flood could have been much worse.
The city’s flood response plan, which is reviewed and updated after each flood incident, was also critical Tuesday. While Moscow bore the brunt of the flooding, other parts of Latah County did not escape unscathed.
Latah County Disaster Services Coordinator Mike Neelon told county commissioners during a local disaster emergency declaration meeting Wednesday that roads, such as Lenville Road and Highway 8, sustained damages from flooding and a mudslide was reported on Wallen Road.
A portion of Flannigan Creek Road west of Potlatch was still closed Wednesday morning because of water covering the roadway.
Neelon said the main concern is the old bridges that were affected by flooding.
County Commissioner Dave McGraw said he was told while no bridge or road was severely damaged, the total damages to public infrastructure likely adds up or exceeds the $138,000 threshold — an approximate number the county can use to determine whether an emergency declaration is necessary.
Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson told the commissioners there were at least 13 flood-related calls for service in the past 24 hours in the county.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.