Officials Seek Federal Aid to Ease Flooding Problems in Lemmon V - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Officials Seek Federal Aid to Ease Flooding Problems in Lemmon Valley

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Washoe County announced Thursday that it is declaring a state of emergency, asking for federal assistance due to all the flood damage.

This comes after a press conference in which the county addressed major flooding problems in the Lemmon Valley area.

Unlike most of the region, Lemmon Valley still hasn't dried out from the last few rounds of storms. Flood experts chalk that up to the topography of the area. Lemmon Valley is a basin, and the bottom of that basin is Swan Lake, which has pretty much always been dry. Washoe County officials said that in a typical storm, the water will pass through, but since we've had eight major water events since October, the lake has started to fill, and there's nowhere for the water to go.

"That is the problem when you look at Lemmon Valley," Truckee River Flood Management Authority Senior Hydrogeologist Ed Evans said. "It is a closed basin, so it's not like Lake Tahoe that has a drainage. All the water falling on the hills around Peavine and all the surrounding hillside has to flow to the lowest spot in the valley. That is Swan Lake and Silver Lake."

The rising water is seeping into homes, damaging roads, and causing real problems for about 20 families. Some have had to relocate, while others are sandbagging and sticking it out.

For those who stay, county officials have words of caution. The floodwater could have damaged wells and septic systems, compromising water quality. It could cause problems with plumbing as well. They're urging residents to check their systems closely, and if they notice water clarity issues, to call a professional.

If they choose to relocate, Washoe County Manager John Slaughter said there are programs to help, and vouchers available to ease the cost.

Sheriff's deputies urged everyone to stay away from closed roads in the area. The department has already had to rescue several drivers stuck in deep water and mud.

It's far from over. Any further storms or snow runoff will cause the lake level to rise more, endangering more homes. It's a situation county officials called "unprecedented," unique to this record-breaking water year.

"This is a very unique situation," Slaughter said. "We are learning as we go, how the lake is performing, and it'll be something that we study. We've begun discussions on what mitigation [options] do we have. We don't have the answer yet on this particular event."

Washoe County is reaching out to residents who are affected, but if you haven't heard from them, they are asking you to call their Community Services line at 328-2180.

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