March 7 6:50 a.m. 100 block of Robertson
Worland temperatures: High 47, Low 31 precipitation: T
Saturday: Patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 50. South wind 5 to 7 mph.
Saturday Night: Clear, with a low around 23. East southeast wind 5 to 7 mph.
Sunday: Increasing clouds, with a high near 53. Southeast wind 5 to 7 mph.
Sunday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 30. East southeast wind around 7 mph.
Monday: A slight chance of rain after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 54. Southeast wind 6 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Monday Night: A chance of rain and snow before 11pm, then a chance of snow. Cloudy, with a low around 27. North northwest wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Tuesday: A chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 16.
Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 42.
Wednesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 17.
Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 48.
Sunset tonight: 6:05 p.m.
Sunrise tomorrow: 6:32 a.m.
DAILY NEWS photo by Lee Lockhart
An ice jam sent the Big Horn River over its banks Friday morning, submerging Riverside Park and flooding neighbors. Approximately 60 homes were evacuated.
60 homes evacuated
Ice jam floods neighborhood
By Bob Vines
WORLAND – Ice jams sent water over the banks of the Big Horn River with
little warning, causing flooding and the evacuations of approximately 60
homes in Worland Friday morning. By afternoon, Gov. Matt Mead’s office
had authorized the deployment of Wyoming National Guard units.
“With people out of their homes in Washakie County because of this flooding, I have asked the National Guard to lend a hand,” Mead said. “We are watching the situation closely and will work with local officials in Washakie County and neighboring Big Horn County to make sure they have all the support needed.”
Approximately 20 National Guard units in the northwest part of the state preparing to leave for weekend drills in Camp Guernsey were diverted to Worland. They are expected to join 13 inmates from the Wyoming Honor Farm and local volunteers.
The Army Corps of Engineers were also en route from South Dakota and was expected in Worland Friday evening.
The first call came into the Washakie County Law Enforcement Center requesting assistance evacuating a family at 110 Robertson Ave at 6:50 a.m. Friday, March 7, due to rising waters. Shortly after, emergency crews began evacuating a neighborhood west of Worland and north of Highway 20. Floodwaters filled Rotary Riverside Park and began to seep into nearby homes.
“We tried to isolate from the river to the railroad tracks and to Grace Ave.,” said Worland Police Chief Gabe Elliott of the evacuation. Some residents and businesses on the west side of the river were also evacuated.
The water began to subside after approximately 90 minutes but authorities were bracing for more flooding Friday night into Saturday morning.
“If they can’t get the ice packs to move down, we could see a potential problem again,” said Elliott.
“There is roughly a half a mile of solid ice over 18 inches thick,” Worland Fire Chief and Incident Commander Chris Kocher said during a meeting of local officials Friday afternoon. Kocher felt as temperatures cooled during the evening that the waters could back up once again. They were also concerned with the weather forecast that calls for possible rain and snow Sunday and Monday.
Authorities were apprehensive to take too many steps to try to break the jam for concerns that they will only create more problems down river for northern communities including Manderson which was already seeing flooding mid-day Friday.
David Deutz with the state engineer’s office said he spoke with the Bureau of Reclamation, and curtailing the flow from Boysen Dam isn’t a viable option. It was already at their lowest level of 475 cubic feet per second and any benefits from lowering it further would be minimal compared to possible unintended consequences.
Deutz and Kocher were to check erosion and cracking of some levies southwest of Worland Friday afternoon.
Local authorities had a conference call with state officials representing several agencies Friday afternoon including the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, Wyoming Department of Transportation, Department of Health, Department of Environmental Quality, the state engineer’s office and the Department of Insurance.
During the conference call, state officials also discussed other manpower options including the possibility of moving a group of wildfire specialists out of Newcastle. They planned to have another conference call with local authorities at 10 a.m. this morning for updates.
The sandbagging efforts were to center on lift stations, the KKLX/KWOR radio station offices nearby and area homes. Authorities were also recruiting volunteers to help fill sandbags at the WyDOT offices nearby on Big Horn Ave.
Kocher said that the Worland sewer lagoons were not in danger and, outside of flooded homes using well water, there were no contamination concerns. Public health officials did warn residents about using well water in the flooded areas. They were instructed to boil their water for three minutes before using.
Red Cross had set up a staging area at the Worland Community Center Complex for evacuees, many of whom were put up at local hotels. Police had begun to let some residents back into their homes Friday afternoon in order to pick up medication and other necessities but closed the area off again at 6 p.m.
Video taken from a drone supplied by Worland Fire Department Captain Brandon Yule showed considerable flooding from the area north of Highway 20 with the largest ice jam just north of the bridge west of Worland.
Continued in today's issue of the DAILY NEWS. Subscribe here
DAILY NEWS photo by Lee Lockhart
Worland Police Chief Gabe Elliott, left, and Worland Fire Chief Chris Kocher, right, coordinate emergency response efforts Friday morning where Highway 20 crosses the Big Horn River southwest of Worland.
Northern Wyoming Daily News
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