Flooding made streets in Pocatello and Chubbuck hazardous or impassable Friday afternoon and evening as storm clouds dropped 2.5 inches of rain on Chubbuck and up to four inches on west Pocatello, according to the National Weather Service. Before the afternoon storm, Pocatello had received only 3.86 inches of precipitation since Jan. 1.
“Motorists need to stay away from standing water,” Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad said Friday evening. “We have some sink holes and we want to make sure no one gets hurt.”
There were several reports of homes and businesses flooded in Pocatello and Chubbuck, but no injuries were reported.
Blad was at the incident command center for Pocatello's flooding which was at Fire Station 1 on East Whitman Street. A block away bumper-to-bumper traffic was streaming over the Benton Street overpass as rush hour found the Center Street Underpass closed due to the flooding. For a time Benton was the only route open to West Pocatello.
The street closures in Pocatello included Pocatello Avenue from Fourth Street to the Center Street underpass, 7th Street from Sublette Street to Sherman Street, North Main and Highway 30 at the railroad bridge, Gould Street overpass, Cedar Street, Pole Line Road, Eldredge Road between the railroad tracks and Pole Line and Cypress, Ebony and Dogwood streets. In addition heavy mud temporarily closed Skyline Drive.
Because the heavy rains came so quickly, city storm drains were overwhelmed.
“The drains are doing all they can right now,” Mayor Blad said.
To the north in Chubbuck, Fire Chief Eric King was keeping flood fighting efforts organized. The worst flooding involved Galena Street, Hiline Road and E. Chubbuck Road. The Interstate 86 underpass on Hawthorne Road was also flooded, making passage impossible early in the afternoon.
Traffic snarled on Yellowstone Avenue, compounded by the massive interchange project on I-86.
“We had it backed up from the interstate all the way to Chubbuck Road,” King said.
The Chubbuck Fire Department was busy pumping water out of the streets in the Pheasant Ridge, Alamo and Eagle areas about 7 p.m. King said the effort was necessary to keep water from flooding mobile homes in the area. His crews were also working on Deer Avenue and Cole Street.
“We made it up for the summer,” King said about the heavy precipitation.
As rush hour motorists tried to navigate Pocatello from east to west, it was limited to Benton Street to the south and a partially blocked Gould Street overpass to the north.
To help with traffic control, Pocatello police Lt. Roger Schei said officers on the night shift were called in early. Schei was at incident command with Pocatello Fire Chief David Gates, helping to coordinate the emergency response effort.