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Thursday, March 30, 2017

When dealing with nature let's play it safe out there

Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2017, at 12:40 PM

It takes just six inches of moving water to knock down a human being. When the water swells to a depth of just two feet, it's powerful enough to sweep a vehicle away.

Keep that in mind when you choose to drive anywhere in this county or parts of southern Idaho, especially right now.

As we've seen in just the past week, the record-setting snow that battered our state came with plenty of consequences once the weather started to rapidly warm up. I've honestly lost count of how many videos I watched over the past few days illustrating just how bad the flooding has gotten across Idaho.

It's gotten to the point that I was expecting to catch a glimpse of a large wooden ship packed with pairs of animals sailing down these overflowing rivers.

Ok, I jest regarding that last comment, but you get the point.

Truth be told, the residents of this county have gotten very lucky over the past few days when we compare what we've experienced to other areas of Idaho or the western United States. While I offer my sincerest sympathies to those directly impacted by the recent flooding, it's only fair to mention that it could've been far worse.

Among those hardest hit were the residents in the Oasis area. On Thursday, three families watched as their only access point onto their properties was suddenly erased due to the flooding and required the tireless efforts of emergency responders to reconnect them with civilization.

Then there was the case last Wednesday in which four teenagers were left stranded on Highway 20 after they drove nose-first into some very deep water. Call it luck, call it fate or call it Devine intervention, but someone was definitely looking out for the welfare of these young men and women.

The reason? It's because a concrete barrier likely saved their lives after their car got pushed against that wall versus having it washed down a ravine.

These incidents are just a taste of what other communities in Idaho and the western United States are dealing with right now. We've been spared the brunt of Mother Nature's wrath... at least for now.

I suppose my biggest concern involves the potential consequences attributed to all the snow that fell on the communities of Pine and Featherville so far this winter. At last count, people in these rural towns stopped measuring the accumulation in inches and had to start calculating it in feet.

I honestly worry that the flooding we've seen in western and eastern Idaho over the past few days are just a taste of what we can expect once the temperature allows the snow in these mountain communities to melt. At this point, I'm praying that Devine intervention will step in once again by allowing us to have this literal mountain of snow gradually melt versus all at once.

Consider my fingers tightly crossed right now.

But the risk of flooding is just one of the dangers we currently face. As the temperatures remain above freezing, another looming danger involves the potential for avalanches. Last week, that danger took the life of a Wyoming native, who was killed following an avalanche in the McCoy Creek area in eastern Idaho.

If you choose to go hiking, snowmobiling or driving an off-road vehicle in places where we have a lot of snow present, may I suggest you bring along the necessary survival gear in addition to playing it extremely careful. As I quickly learned when I moved to Mountain Home nearly 11 years ago, the back county region in this state can easily kill someone if they let their guard down, even if it's just for a minute.

None of us want Mother Nature to stop us from making our plans to enjoy Idaho's grandeur. However, it's clear that we need to respect her and to enjoy the great outdoors a lot more carefully.

To quote Sgt. Phil Esterhaus from the classic television show Hill Street Blues, "Hey, let's be careful out there."

* * *

Having said that, I'd now like to take a minute, along with newspaper publisher Brenda Fincher, and extend our personal thanks to some people that have gone out of their way to support this newspaper in recent weeks, in particular our sports section. Among them was Stevie Carr, a student at Mountain Home High School who provided some dynamic coverage of our Lady Tigers soccer team this fall.

Carr volunteered to gather information for eight bylined stories during the season, which allowed the Mountain Home News to follow the team, regardless if they won or lost. When that season ended, Stevie's mother, Lisa Carr, continued to cover the high school girls' basketball team during their season, which wrapped up last week.

That type of coverage extended over into the boys ranks during the winter season with coach Scott Mederios providing some stellar coverage of our Tigers' varsity and junior varsity wrestling teams. Once again, our wrestlers dominated the mats with an impressive number of wins and additional accolades for these athletes.

Thanks to the efforts of these individuals, this newspaper was able to keep a pulse on these sports despite our limitations in terms of manpower. As many of you might remember, this newspaper was blessed for many years due to the outstanding coverage of the local sports scene by Alvin Powers, who served as the voice of the Mountain Home Tigers prior to his retirement.

While Alvin's presence was greatly felt across this community, we are blessed to have such willing individuals that stepped up and continued to serve as the voice of our Tigers. They've helped carry on his legacy, and for that, I am truly thankful.

-- Brian S. Orban

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