UPDATE (6:51 p.m.): Washoe County is closing roads in Lemmon Valley (click on map at right) due to water in the roadways. County Manager John Slaughter also announced that he signed an emergency declaration because of the ongoing flooding.
“We are hopeful that Governor Sandoval will include Washoe County in the Emergency Declaration request he is currently developing for other Counties in Nevada that have experienced flooding issues in February,” he said. “If this declaration is accepted and the Governors’ request is approved by the President, it could provide additional options for residents to seek individual assistance.”
Lemmon Valley continues to be cursed by flooding. The latest round of storms put water over Lemmon Valley drive and flooded a number of homes.
It’s not the first time. Residents continue to be frustrated by repeat flooding, with some blaming the county for inadequate services to the area. A request for emergency funding to FEMA was denied in 2015 but the county made available some grant funds for home repairs after summer flash floods.
This past week, however, saw more severe flooding to the area, and Washoe County officials today sent a news release outlining steps they are taking to help mitigate some of the damage.
“The flooding in Lemmon Valley is a tragic situation and we send our thoughts to those affected,” said Bob Lucey, chair of the Board of County Commissioners. “Safety is our number one concern. We are meeting with residents individually to determine their needs and how we can help them through this very difficult time.”
Washoe County’s Response
Five of Washoe County’s largest departments are coordinating to help residents impacted by the flooding situation.
- County Manager’s Office – The Emergency Management Program is coordinating local, regional, and state resources to provide individualized support for residents’ immediate needs.
- Community Services Department – Continued cleaning efforts related to the storm events beginning in December including debris removal, providing sand and sand bags, snow removal, daily monitoring, and identification of affected properties. Priorities are focused on life safety, public infrastructure, and home damage.
- Washoe County Human Services Agency – Continued outreach to residents to determine individual needs, including food, shelter, and other necessary assistance.
- Washoe County Regional Animal Services – The department toured affected flood sites and has offered to respond to all animal welfare concerns. This work is ongoing.
- Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (TMFPD), along with Nevada Department of Forestry (NDF), is assisting with sandbag construction and emergency response to immediate resident issues that arise.
“Washoe County is culminating its resources within our departments as well as reaching out to other community partners to address the situation,” Washoe County Manager John Slaughter said. “We understand this is a difficult situation for residents and we are doing everything in our power to help. Response priorities for Washoe County include life safety, preventing damage to homes, maintaining emergency access to property, and providing for safe travel on County roads.”
Situation with Swan Lake
Lemmon Valley is one of the hardest hit areas within the region with the most significant impact being near Swan Lake. Much of this area has been designated flood zone by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Here is a map that shows flood plains designated by FEMA.
Swan Lake is the lowest point in Lemmon Valley, collecting surface drainage from a very large area including portions of Peavine Mountain and other nearby mountain passes. It is anticipated that Swan Lake will continue to rise as storms continue in the region.
Residents located near or adjacent to the Swan Lake flood plain should prepare for the potential rise in the lake level and take precautionary measures they deem necessary for their property.
While Washoe County crews continue to address culverts, roadside ditches and drainages throughout Lemmon Valley, these activities will not prevent rising lake levels and the potential for flooding, including water on property and roadways.
Washoe County has sand bag resources available to residents at the following Lemmon Valley locations:
- Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Station #223, at 130 Nectar St.
- Arizona and Lemmon Drive
- Other sandbag locations can be found here.
Residents in unincorporated Washoe County who are experiencing flooding should call 775-328-2180. If there is an emergency, please call 911 immediately.
Unprecedented Weather Has Made Conditions Difficult
The recent weather patterns in 2017 have resulted in major flooding in Lemmon Valley and throughout Washoe County.
“The region has been subject to unusual numbers of strong atmospheric river storms this winter, most notably in January and February,” said Chris Smallcomb, a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno. “2017 has seen the wettest start to a year for the Reno area, with 8.9 inches of precipitation at the Reno Tahoe International Airport since Jan. 1. This also exceeds the 7.34 inch average for an entire year, in just the first month and a half of the 2017. This excessive rainfall has resulted in saturated ground that is easily prone to flooding from even just modest storms.”
More winter weather expected
The National Weather Service in Reno is forecasting scattered showers Thursday and Saturday. A more significant storm is expected Sunday-Monday. More weather information can be found on their website.
For life-safety issues regarding flooding, citizens should call 9-1-1.
For non-emergency flooding issues citizens can call 775-328-2180.
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Bob Conrad is publisher, editor, and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.