Fremont County Authorities Upgrade Flood Evacuation Notice [VIDEO]
After receiving preliminary notice of potential evacuations Thursday evening, Fremont County residents are now under an upgraded evacuation notice as river levels continue to rise.
A "Level 2" evacuation notice is now in effect for property owners along the Riverton Valley Irrigation Canal. This notice tells people to "be set" for evacuations, urging them to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.
A "Level 3" notice, which means residents must leave immediately, is the final step in the evacuation notice system. However, this latest update could be the only notice residents receive of an evacuation, as emergency workers may not be able to notify people in the event conditions rapidly deteriorate.
The Fremont County Emergency Management Agency emphasizes that residents may not have time to gather necessary items.
The Big Wind River is high enough that it is flowing into old river channels about 6.5 miles west of Riverton, bypassing the irrigation district's head gates.
Residents along the canal are being told to move pumps, equipment and livestock away from the canal, which is likely to overflow.
The path of the canal, from east to west, crosses the following streets: Quarts Drive, Galloway Road, Deerfield Drive, Country Club Drive, South Major Avenue above Riverview Road, Main Street on High School Hill, West Sunset between North 8th West and Sherry Drive, Country Acres Road, Dalley Road, Young Road and Mazet Road.
Flooding impacts may vary by location and will depend on the volume of water released into low-lying areas upstream.
The Big Wind River is expected to crest Monday morning.
As of 3:15 p.m. Thursday, the Big Wind River level was at 11.93 feet, topping the previous record of 11.8 feet set in 2011.
The river is expected to hit 12.2 feet early Monday, over three feet above the Riverton flood stage of nine feet, according to the Riverton office of the National Weather Service.
Authorities emphasize that evacuation levels may progress quickly and without notice due to the unpredictable nature of flooding.
Residents who feel their home is in danger are advised to evacuate early, rather than depend on a rescue situation after the fact. An evacuation shelter has not been opened as of 6 p.m. Thursday.
People should stay out of the water and keep away from the water's edge, as unstable soil may cause rapid erosion. In other parts of the state, portions of riverbank have fallen away, taking sections of roadway with them in several cases.
It only takes a few inches of fast-moving water to carry a person of vehicle away. As such, authorities urge people to not drive into flooded areas. Flood waters can move rapidly and be unpredictable.
Across the country, flooding causes more weather-related deaths than all other weather hazards combined.
Video courtesy of Don Rood.