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Jefferson County levee repaired with help of local contractors

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Crews repair the Heise-Roberts levee system. | Courtesy Rebecca Squires, Jefferson County Emergency Manager

LORENZO — At least 60 homes were in danger of being flooded if levee damage wasn’t repaired. With help from local contractors, the damaged levee was fixed in just days.

Severe damage to the Heise-Roberts levee system along the Snake River was discovered May 12. The emergency repairs were completed 10 days later.

The repairs were made by nearly a dozen local contractors working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Also involved was Jefferson County, which built up access roads for equipment to make it the river.

“The majority of this work was completed with local help, and they were a great help,” said Jason Starner with Sand Point Generating, the general contractor for the project. “All of the equipment rentals were from local companies. All of the trucking was from local companies. We had subcontractors that not only provided equipment but crews, and all that was done locally.”

Andrew Rajala with the Army Corps of Engineers praised the coordinated effort.

“We worked together and got emergency contracts in place, got crews mobilized and got things started,” Rajala said.

Rajala said erosion damage similar to what happened at the Heise-Roberts system can happen very quickly once it gets started.

“There were a lot of unknowns and lot of risks,” Rajala said. “One of the big issues was we just didn’t know how much cubic yards of rock we were going to need to fill the voids.”

He said crews needed nine truckloads of rock — 200 cubic yards — just to fill one of the holes.

Rebecca Squires, the Jefferson County emergency manager, said the levee was eroding at 2 feet a day. A previous Jefferson County news release stated 400 feet of levee had been severely damaged.

“There were over 60 homes in the inundation area if this area of the levee had been breached,” Rajala said.

The danger of the levee being breached caused the county to declare a state of emergency. Squires said it would have been a larger problem if the levee had not been repaired before the increase of water flow in the river in June.

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