County Assesses Flood Preparations - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

County Assesses Flood Preparations

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Emergency experts from Washoe County, the City of Reno and the City of Sparks are already debriefing their response to the potential flood that fortunately, never happened. They say the hours people spent sandbagging their homes and businesses were worth it and that, had the weather not changed, those sandbags would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in damaged property. Washoe County Emergency Manager Aaron Kenneston believes we just got lucky. "When that snow came down quickly it changed the model from 19 feet at the Vista gauge, to 13½ feet, which was 1½ feet under flood stage; so that's very fortunate for us," said Kenneston. 

The last-minute change in the weather meant the threat to the low-lying areas in Reno and Sparks appeared to be over, and by Sunday afternoon the National Weather Service canceled flood warnings in our area. Lessons from floods in 1997 and 2005 also helped, and emergency officials say this time they were proactive — encouraging people to prepare for the worst.

A key question is whether the time people spent preparing for the flood was worth it. Kenneston says removing sandbags that aren't needed is far better than cleaning up and repairing flooded properties. "I'm not sure there's such a thing as being over-prepared," he said. "When you look at the '97 flood, it cost the region almost a billion dollars; the 2005 flood, which was a 50-year flood, cost in the hundreds of thousands."

Emergency managers have already begun the process of evaluating the response to the flood and they have identified some areas that could be improved. "They relate to how well we communicate together and work with the public," Kenneston said. "And how quickly we can begin engaging with the state and federal government to make sure we have resources in our region to help people prepare."

Kenneston said this time businesses had a representative present in the Emergency Operations Center all weekend, which allowed officials to spread new quickly to those who might be affected by the flood. 

Written by Jennifer Burton

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