Weekend of sandbagging efforts offer greater flood security in Saratoga

Rawlins Daily Times, Trudy Balcom A UHC Blackhawk helicopter could be seen hanging in the sky as it carried jumbo two-ton sandbags to shore up a headgate on Boozer Creek near where it joins the North Platte River just south of Saratoga. Golfers on the nearby course at Saratoga Resort seemed to pay little mind to its passing. Portions of three Wyoming National Guard units — the Charlie Co. of the 159th Aviation, the 115th Artllery Brigade, Troop Command and the 153rd Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard of the assisted in sandbagging on the ground and in the sky starting May 19.

Rawlins Daily Times, Trudy Balcom
A UHC Blackhawk helicopter could be seen hanging in the sky as it carried jumbo two-ton sandbags to shore up a headgate on Boozer Creek near where it joins the North Platte River just south of Saratoga. Golfers on the nearby course at Saratoga Resort seemed to pay little mind to its passing. Portions of three Wyoming National Guard units — the Charlie Co. of the 159th Aviation, the 115th Artllery Brigade, Troop Command and the 153rd Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard of the assisted in sandbagging on the ground and in the sky starting May 19.

By Trudy Balcom

tbalcom@rawlinstimes.com

SARATOGA — A trio of National Guard units spent the weekend in Saratoga assisting with sandbagging efforts along the banks of the North Platte River.

“We still have three units, about 120 people, plus a crew of Smokebusters from the Honor Camp at Newcastle,” said Carbon County Emergency Manager John Zeiger on Monday.

The Guardsmen and women, plus local volunteers, filled “several thousand” sandbags over the weekend and placed them on the riverbank through town over the weekend. Zeiger said he was not sure how many sandbags had been filled and placed.

“We lost track,” he said.

“Through Saratoga, we’ve built up until we will be okay to 10 feet. All predictions are that we won’t see a 2011 event again, but we may see a 2014 event. It’s Mother Nature and what she decides to throw at us,” Zeiger said.

In 2011, the North Platte River at Saratoga reached a historic crest of 10.49 feet on June 9. In 2014 and in 2010, the river crested 10.17 and 10.16 feet respectively.

Zeiger said that area snowpack remains at 130 percent of average, and that additional snow fell over the weekend at Elk Mountain. However, the North Platte is expected to remain steady this week at about eight feet.

On Monday at around noon, the river was at 8.15 feet. Zeiger expected to receive an update on snowpack levels late on Monday.

The National Weather Service is predicting the river will reach 8.5 feet this weekend and hold at that level through Saturday. Rain showers are possible Thursday through Saturday.

Zeiger said the Guard was still working on placing two-ton sandbags on the west side of the river about one-half mile from the city limits near a headgate on Boozer Creek.

He said they planned to continue work on that project through Tuesday. The plan, Zeiger said, was to place 100 more jumbo sandbags in locations near the headgate by the end of the day Tuesday.

The Guard units are expected to remain in Saratoga through Thursday, and the Smokebuster crew may remain longer, depending on flooding conditions.

Zeiger was in Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow and Riverside Monday, checking flood levels in those towns. He said that currently the only other Carbon County community where flooding could become a problem is Baggs.

“We’re not out of the woods, but as long as we don’t have a rain on snow event we should be okay,” he said.

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