We are now a few days removed from the record rainstorm that flooded streets and split a city in half. A significant weather event parked over sections of the Gate City Friday and was in no hurry to leave. City crews have been working since then to restore things to where they were before the storm.
“These are not normal storms,” said Randy Ghezzi, Street Operations Department Head. “These are unusual events that come into this area and they might get trapped between the mountains and sit here in the city and dump water. And again, when you have an unusual event, you can’t size a storm drain to that because you don’t know what it’s going to produce.”
Pocatello’s storm drain system has been improved upon several times in recent years and these improvements were put to the test Friday.
“The storm drain system was built to handle a certain amount of flow,” said Ghezzi. When you overtop that flow, then it begins to get up into yards and everywhere else and it starts to bring debris.”
It was this debris that clogged the drains inside the underpass which lead to its flooding. Still, Randy says things may have been worse if the storm would have hit during another time of the year.
“One of the key reasons too that it didn’t back up worse is remember the Portneuf River right now this time of year is at its lowest flow so all of our storm drains are open and able to run freely into the Portneuf.”
Randy says half their staff is now working on the cleanup. They normally would all be working on paving projects. He hopes to have everything finished by Thursday night.
The underpass is equipped with two automatic pumps that normally keep the flooding at a minimum. However because of the severity of the storm and debris, the pumps could not keep up. It took crews about 24 hours to reopen this connector to Old Town.