For Immediate Release
Contact: Amy Ventetuolo
Reno, Nev. March 16, 2018. This time last year, Washoe County and the region experienced record-breaking rain with two presidentially-declared flood disasters. These atmospheric rivers overwhelmed existing stormwater infrastructure, designed to convey runoff from every day or minor storm events, causing flooding in the Truckee River and throughout the region.
Based on monitoring and forecasts, Washoe County and partners alerted residents and went door-to-door in flood prone areas. During response and recovery, Washoe County worked with partners to open a 24-hour command post, deploy dozens of resources, address ditch overtopping throughout the county and provided over a million sandbags to protect residents as well as installing a four-mile HESCO flood barrier around Swan Lake.
Update: In this past year, the work continues in Lemmon Valley:
Post Recovery Assessments. One year ago, Washoe County inspectors assessed each property within the Swan Lake flood area. They implemented a universal damage assessment system, meaning if the property was given a red tag, it possibly posed an extreme hazard or unsafe situation. A yellow tag signified the property was questionable and warranted a restriction on occupancy, and a green tag signified there was no apparent hazard that was identified. The same inspectors from the Washoe County Building Department and the Washoe County Health District, are preparing to head back out to inspect remaining tagged properties. These Post Recovery Assessments serve to aide homeowners to identify needed repairs so they can move back in.
To date, a total of nine properties remained tagged; three properties remain red-tagged and six properties remain yellow-tagged and four families are still receiving housing assistance from the state.
“After one year, many of the problems that necessitated a red or yellow tag on the property may now be cleared up, or could be easily cleared up,” says Shawn Keating, Building Inspector Supervisor. “Our goal with these inspections is to get people back in their homes safely.”
Home Buyout Program. A home purchase program for specific residences located within the FEMA-designated Lemmon Valley flood plain is currently underway. A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant, known as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, is a voluntary option for certain homeowners located within the FEMA-designated flood plain to sell their property and relocate outside of the floodplain. Washoe County would then deed the land as open space so it could never be developed again.
Washoe County is currently working with nine property owners to pursue the grant program. The final steps of the application process are underway and it is expected that the final application will be submitted this week to the State of Nevada, who will in turn submit it to FEMA.
Should Washoe County receive grant approval, FEMA estimates the process may take up to 24 months from the beginning of the process to the final disbursement of funds to property owners.
Residents have also been concerned that if their red or yellow-tagged home is remediated and the tag removed, it could impact their qualification to participate in this grant program, however there is no correlation between the status of a tagged property and the criteria to qualify for the program.
Lemmon Drive Closing. After careful monitoring, Lemmon Valley Drive was re-opened in August 2017 after water levels in Swan Lake receded making it safe for the traveling public once again. However, water elevations have risen over the past several months, coupled with a late spring snow and precipitation season, the water in Swan Lake could rise to an unsafe level, and close Lemmon Drive once again.
Washoe County has been working closely with the City of Reno to monitor the area and should water levels rise, the two entities will work together to place the barriers and signage in key locations to temporarily close the road. Should this occur, notifications to all regional partners, the public and all other emergency responders would be sent.
One year later, while water remains in some basins, there is no flooding, no lives at risk from flooding and no homes or structures that are flooded from the 2017 disasters. Washoe County crews continue to monitor and maintain protections including stormwater pumps and HESCO barrier system to help ensure the protection of residents.
For questions from the public, please contact Washoe 311 by dialing 3-1-1 from any phone.