The Churchill County School District is taking an active role in participating with the countywide Emergency Operations Center in case of potential flooding in the Lahontan Valley this spring.
Dr. Sandra Sheldon, superintendent of schools, said the district has assets available for both the county and city in case they are needed. She also said the district has members attending EOC meetings to stay current on the latest flood information.
Sheldon said the district will provide 24-hour contact with the county. She said Steve Russell, director of Transportation, and Brian Byrd, director of Maintenance, will be on call for any and all emergencies until any flood danger has passed. Sheldon said she would be available in case neither Russell nor Byrd can be reached.
“More than anything the district wants to show that we are working with the city and county and are ready to pitch in and help in any manner possible,” she said.
Sheldon said school buses could be used for evacuations, while three schools have been designated for shelters. She said E.C. Best and Numa elementary schools as well as Northside Early Learning Center would be used if shelters were needed. According to Sheldon, E.C. Best and Numa have a close proximity to Banner Churchill Community Hospital. Additionally, she said the district will provide these shelter locations only after other community facilities are full. If the community reaches that point, she said schools most likely will be cancelled prior to using district property.
The district has been involved with emergency preparation, and in June 2011, school officials used school buses to transport passengers from an Amtrak passenger train that was involved in a collision with an ore truck 33 miles north of Fallon — and also opened E.C. Best as a shelter.
In case other assets are needed this spring, Sheldon said the district will use its all-call system and all social media sources to notify as many individuals as possible in case of an emergency.
The potential for spring flooding remains a threat in central Nevada, especially along the Carson River. County officials and volunteers from both Churchill and Lyon have filled sandbags and distributed them to residents who primarily live near the river or low-lying areas.
Furthermore, both the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District and EOC are monitoring weather conditions both in the low-lying areas and in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Because of the heavy snowfall record in the Sierra, TCID’s general manager said the threat of flooding could reach into the summer months. Rusty Jardine said TCID began releasing water in mid-February and has already released about 100,000 acre-feet into the river and canal system. Additional water has also flowed to the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge where ponds and lakes as well as the Stillwater Point Reservoir are filling up.
The Lahontan Reservoir’s capacity is 295,500 acre-feet and is currently 70,000 acre feet below that level. According to the National Weather Service, river flows normally seen in May are at that stage in late March for the Carson, Truckee and Humboldt rivers.
Jardine said TCID has performed maintenance on the Lahontan Dam and at an emergency-built weir and spillway off the V-line canal between Diversion Dam and the 26-Foot Drop, a hydroelectric energy generation facility at the end of Casey Road. A damaged concrete section of the dam was removed and repaired, and TCID had been waiting for the reattached piece to cure. A test was performed on the concrete Thursday.
Jardine said if the test on the concrete proves successful, TCID may begin releasing up to 2,450 cubic feet of water from the reservoir possibly by today with up to 1,400 cfs going to the V-line and 1,000 cfs into the Carson River.
“We like to fire back up at Lahontan through the outlet we did the work on,” Jardine said. “To maintain a strategy to deal with the runoff, we need to run the river fast and high and as close to 1,000 cfs as we can ... we don’t want to see flooding happen to anyone.”
The Nevada Department of Transportation is also planning another emergency work project on U.S. Highway 50 between Wildes Road and Macari Lane east of Fallon. The project will begin within the next two weeks and include the construction of culverts to allow water under the highway.
NDOT said this is similar to the recent project done on U.S. Highway 95 when the highway was closed for almost one week.