FLOODED with WORRIES

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  • Photos by LOREN BENOIT/Press Pete Danforth helps clear driftwood from a lakeside property in Bayview on Monday. Several residents are concerned that recent rising lake levels could flood and damage lakeside property.

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    Bayview resident Jess Goetz moves dirt in preparation for sand bagging and rising water levels.

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    Bayview resident Jess Goetz is taking precautions to protect his property from the rising lake levels at Lake Pend Oreille.

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    The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office cautions boaters during this spring's runoff. With the high water levels, shore lines, docks and other property close to shore are susceptible to damage from vessel wakes. (LOREN BENOIT/Press)

  • Photos by LOREN BENOIT/Press Pete Danforth helps clear driftwood from a lakeside property in Bayview on Monday. Several residents are concerned that recent rising lake levels could flood and damage lakeside property.

  • 1

    Bayview resident Jess Goetz moves dirt in preparation for sand bagging and rising water levels.

  • 2

    Bayview resident Jess Goetz is taking precautions to protect his property from the rising lake levels at Lake Pend Oreille.

  • 3

    The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office cautions boaters during this spring's runoff. With the high water levels, shore lines, docks and other property close to shore are susceptible to damage from vessel wakes. (LOREN BENOIT/Press)

BAYVIEW — This isn't Jess Goetz's first rodeo with flooding on Lake Pend Oreille.

Still, Goetz, who lives off Cape Horn Road, said that doesn't mean the work dealing with the rapidly rising water gets any easier.

He said he expects to have more than 1,000 bags of sand piled in front of his lakefront home this week, preparing for flooding conditions caused by snowmelt that drains into the lake and is predicted to arrive Thursday.

Goetz and hired hand Pete Danforth began taking precautions last Thursday and had more than 30 yards of sand delivered to his home on Monday. He said he expects to spend around $20,000 on the efforts, and there's no insurance for lake flooding.

"She's just starting," Goetz said of the lake's water rise.

Goetz endured the floods of 1997 and 2011, but he said this year's rise is much swifter than those years.

"Since last Tuesday it's risen about 2 feet," he said.

As of Monday morning, the lake was at 2,062.5 feet; flood stage is 2,063.5 feet.

The lake is expected to rise to 2,065.2 feet by next Monday and additional increases are possible thereafter, according to the National Weather Service.

The level reached 2,064.29 feet in 2011.

Minor flooding is also predicted for the St. Joe River at St. Maries. The level was 32 feet on Monday; flood stage is 32.5 feet. The level is expected to rise above flood stage early Wednesday morning and will continue to rise to near 35.1 feet by Friday before midnight.

"Some sections of the St. Joe River Road may be inundated," an NWS forecast states. "Water will approach the flood gates in the levee at the Aqua Park.”

The river at Calder was 11.2 feet on Monday and flood stage is 13 feet. The river there is expected to rise above flood stage around 1 p.m. Thursday.

Sandy Von Behren, Kootenai County's Office of Emergency Management director, said the county plans to post signs in the Bayview area on Lake Pend Oreille warning boaters to adhere to no-wake laws in areas that are being threatened by floods.

Sandbagging also took place at Hudson's Bay Marina, where Sam Conner, a Timberlake Fire Protection District commissioner, was among a dozen or so folks who volunteered to help.

"I'm doing whatever it takes to get the job done," Conner said.

Alma Silverwood, who also lives off Cape Horn Road, said the lake is rising as fast as she's ever seen it.

"The mountains were dumped on (with snow) and then it poured rain," she said. "That water has been climbing awfully fast."

Sand and sand bags are available at the Timberlake fire station in Bayview to assist residents preparing for foods. Residents are also encouraged to sign up for Kootenai County's free emergency notification system at http://oem.kcgov.us.

Temperatures are expected to rise into the 70s and 80s through Wednesday, causing continued rising water levels for the rest of the week, according to the NWS.

Goetz said he'll continue to monitor the level on Pend Oreille and move his classic car collection to higher ground when needed. In the lower level of his home, he has equipment 4 feet above the concrete in case the water floods that level, as expected. The flood threat comes because the Albeni Falls Dam can release only a certain amount of water from the filled-up lake.

Goetz tries to take the chores brought on by Mother Nature in stride.

"This comes with living in a beautiful God-given area," he said. "I'll take a flood and continue to live here because this is God's country."

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