Hard Lessons Learned From the Central Idaho Floods of 1996
Snowpacks melted rapidly. River waters, with nowhere else to go, swelled higher than anyone had seen in at least half a century.
A bitter cold winter had left the Pacific Northwest blanketed in snow and the ground frozen. Then, seemingly overnight, warm winds drove temperatures from the negatives to as high as the 50s. Snowpacks melted rapidly. River waters, with nowhere else to go, swelled higher than anyone had seen in at least half a century. Floods washed out roads, highways and bridges, resulting in mudslides, damaged and destroyed homes and businesses, ruined culverts and even contaminated drinking water.
No one was injured or killed in the region during the weather event that some experts called a "perfect storm."
Since the floods of February 1996, communities have worked to rebuild and prepare for another disaster of that magnitude, should one occur again. Some towns have been revitalized, the flood a catalyst for change. Others are still licking their wounds.
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