This Spring Wyoming's snowpack hit record levels, the North Platte River reached record flood stage in Saratoga, many rivers, streams and creeks across the state topped their banks and the Department of Transportation reacted to or is monitoring 37 landslides. The good news is there was no single major disaster.
Governor Matt Mead today expressed his appreciation to Wyoming's counties and other local officials for their work in preventing a major, lasting event caused by flooding or landslides. The Governor said local efforts in partnership with the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, the Wyoming National Guard and the Wyoming Department of Transportation did a lot to protect people and property across the state.
"Our entire state was proactive in getting out ahead of the flooding," Governor Mead said. "If it wasn't for the tireless work of the Guard, Homeland Security, local officials and volunteers this could have been a disastrous spring. That is not to say we didn't see significant damage in certain places and we are not out of the woods yet."
Governor Mead signed an Executive Order on May 27. That Order activated the State Operations Center and enabled the state to mobilize its resources - including WOHS, the Wyoming National Guard, Wyoming Department of Transportation, Wyoming Honor Farm Wranglers, and others - to assist local authorities.
"This is the first time we have used our force before an emergency occurred in Wyoming," said Maj. Gen. Luke Reiner, Wyoming's adjutant general. "By leaning forward and being in the right place at the right time, we were able to protect Wyoming residents and property."
While there was no single major disaster, there are damages associated with the landslides, saturated agricultural lands, flash flooding in Crook County and the record levels in rivers, creeks and streams. Governor Mead has signed a disaster declaration. "This declaration is needed for Wyoming to qualify for assistance from the federal government," Governor Mead said. "We are likely beyond the threshold set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies for assistance, but we must sign this to find out for sure."
The Director of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, Guy Cameron, has been working with counties to come up with preliminary figures on damages from flooding and related events like landslides. Current estimates total more than $3 million in damages and include the cost of preventative efforts.
"We have spent significantly less in proactive measures this year than we spent in reactive emergency measures last year," Cameron said. "Our flexibility and mobility with the Wyoming National Guard ensured damages were far less than they could have been. However, we had damage and now we are working to help communities and people who have lost or damaged property. This includes businesses that have lost sales revenue. We are looking at everything from roads and bridges to crops and fences."
WOHS and WyNG forces remain on the watch statewide, including at potential high risk flood sites in Fremont, Big Horn, Albany, Washakie and Carbon Counties. "Weather is always a wildcard," Cameron said. "We won't leave until the counties let us know they no longer need our assistance."
(The photo above is of Governor Mead, General Reiner and Director Cameron listening to the daily briefing at the State Operations Center Friday morning.)