The Department of Energy is closely monitoring the potential for flooding this spring at the site of a former uranium mill on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Tailings from the mill contaminated groundwater in the area decades ago. DOE had planned to let the uranium dissipate naturally over the next century, then flooding in 2010 caused an unexpected spike in contamination levels.
Ice jams in the Bighorn River have caused flooding, which in turn caused damage to several homes and businesses in northern Wyoming. High snowpack could bring more floods this spring. Troy Staples is the business preparedness manager for the Red Cross in Wyoming and Colorado. He teaches business owners how to be prepared in case natural disasters or other catastrophes strike their businesses. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov spoke with him. She asked why it’s so hard to re-open after a disaster.
Some businesses have been damaged by the flooding of the Bighorn River in northern Wyoming, and the Red Cross is encouraging other companies to develop plans in case more flooding comes with spring snow melt.
Troy Staples is the Red Cross Business Preparedness Manager for Wyoming and Colorado. He says up to 40-percent of businesses don’t re-open after a disaster.
Travelers might notice more trains crossing roadways and slowing traffic between Cheyenne and Denver during the next few weeks. That's because Colorado floods wiped out a large section of train track between Grand Junction and Denver, and Union Pacific Railroad is detouring trains through Cheyenne's station.
The floods in Colorado could cause a spike in hay prices, which could be good and bad news for Wyoming ranchers.
Many Colorado ranchers lost their season’s hay supply in the deluges that swept across the eastern plains. And that means many Colorado ranchers will likely turn to Wyoming hay producers to feed their livestock through the winter, if they have livestock left to feed.
Brett Moline with the Wyoming Farm Bureau says this might cause the price of hay to rise on the market.
Wyoming will receive more than 20 million dollars in federal money to pay for damage caused to state roads by landslides and flooding last year.
Due to extreme wet weather and flooding, Wyoming sustained damage to roads at 60 sites in 13 counties including the dry sandstone slide on Wyo 70 near Baggs, a slide on highway 26-89 in the Snake River Canyon and a washout on Wyoming 130 east of Saratoga that led to the deaths of four people who were drowned by flood waters.
Anchor ice has been wreaking havoc on some Jackson residents and businesses this week. Also called frazil ice, it’s a rare phenomenon in which the river freezes from the bed up, so flowing water spills out from the sides of the waterway.
Teton County Emergency Management Coordinator Rich Ochs says Jackson’s Flat Creek is one of the few places in the country with prime conditions for anchor ice to form, winter after winter. Ochs says this year has been particularly tough because of the constant freezing temperatures.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated Albany and Carbon counties as natural disaster areas because of flooding. The designation from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Friday provides emergency loans and compensation for farm income lost because of a natural disaster. Farmers and ranchers in the surrounding counties of Converse, Fremont, Laramie, Natrona, Platte and Sweetwater also qualify for USDA assistance because they are next to Albany and Carbon counties. Big Horn County also is seeking a disaster designation from USDA.