Dodging the Flood Bullet

I’m writing this one day before increased flood insurance on my house became effective…
And one day after reports that the flood threat had all but passed.
The Woodward timing.
It turned out that we didn’t need the increased flood insurance – and didn’t need to do any of the other things we did to prepare for the flood. We could have left the coverage at its former level, or, for that matter, had no flood insurance at all. We could have left all the furniture where it was instead of moving it to a storage unit. We could have done absolutely nothing and been just fine.
That’s okay, though. The flood that didn’t happen wasn’t without an up side.
Flooding did happen in low-lying places along the Boise River in Eagle, of course, and in other parts of the state. For the folks whose homes were flooded, there wasn’t an up side. Those of us who live in the flood plain in homes that stayed dry should keep that in mind. But for good luck with the weather and the expertise of those who manage the river flows, we’d be in the same predicament as those who were less lucky.
The neighborhood where I live dodged the flood bullet by a scant few inches. There were places along the bike path on the southern border of the neighborhood where the river was all but lapping at the path’s edges. If it had risen those additional inches, it would have flowed over the path and into our homes.
If the water managers had had to raise the flows those critical inches, the city was prepared to build a wall of sandbags on the bike path. Rob Bousfield from the city’s public works department fielded calls and emails from worried neighbors and spoke at a neighborhood meeting on what the city would do to protect us. Department employees walked the bike path every day to monitor the water levels and keep neighbors up to date. An example of local government at its best.
The flood that came within inches of us helped neighbors get to know each other as never before. People who had never previously met stood in groups on the streets and sidewalks, discussing the likelihood of flooding and their preparations for it. Many of us met for the first time on a neighborhood website, exchanging flood-related information. Neighbors helped one another move belongings to storage units. I’m on a first-name basis now with neighbors I wouldn’t know if not for the flood we so narrowly escaped.
The Woodwards moved furniture and other belongings in mid-May to the the last available 10- by 20-foot unit at a storage facility safely located on high ground. An employee there told us they’d rented dozens of units to potential flood victims.
Not everything was moved – you have to keep a few things if you’re staying in the house until you absolutely can’t – but we moved almost everything on the main floor and what we could from the finished basement. The move brought family and friends together and way more offers of help than needed. To those who did help – Andie, Jenny, Mark, Christian, Wally, Ryan, Chloe and Shawn – a heartfelt thank you.
The furniture and other oddments pretty much filled the storage space. Surprisingly, we didn’t miss a lot of it. It’s amazing how little you can get by with when have to.
The move was a perfect opportunity to cut down. We threw away or donated unused things that had been taking up space forever. Between that and moving things to storage, it was surprising how much bigger some of the rooms looked. The crowded dining room and the living room we’ve wished were bigger suddenly seemed spacious. We liked the dining room without dining-room furniture so much that we decided to turn it into a TV and reading room.
The absence of furniture also created opportunities. With the furniture out of the way, I stripped the outdated dining-room wallpaper and painted the walls.
We’d been talking about replacing the living room carpet with a wood floor for a long time, and what better time than with the furniture gone?
There was a bit of a hitch, however. The installer who did such a great job on our kitchen floor was booked six weeks out. If you’ve followed the news about Boise’s shortage of construction workers, you know that long delays are common.
So … I broke one of the rules I’ve learned to live by – don’t do it yourself – and tackled the living-room floor.
It did not go well. More about that in a future column.
Flooding, of course, would have been infinitely worse.
Now, with the record snows and the spring of our discontent behind, we’ve finally stopped worrying. The furniture came home last week. (Thanks, Matt, Jen, Cameo, and Andy for helping.) The level of the river has dropped so much that the inches that separated us from disaster have become feet. For the first time in weeks, we can’t hear the rush of the river from our back yard at night. The pools of standing ground water have even dried up.
Now all we have to worry about are mosquitoes.

Tim Woodward’s column appears every other Sunday in The Idaho Statesman and is posted on the following Mondays. Contact him at

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