A crisis was averted in Mullan Thursday when a plugged culvert that runs along River Street forced flood water onto the road and threatened to flood the Mullan Trail Gas Station.
Crews from the Idaho Transportation Department were able to pump some of the water out and get the culvert unplugged in time so that the water did not pool up and flood downtown Mullan, allowing it continue its natural stream down to the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.
According to Mullan mayor Don Kotschevar though, this threat could have been avoided if ITD had heeded his warnings when he forecasted the events that unfolded Thursday morning.
“I contacted ITD six weeks ago and told them about this plugged culvert that ran below River Street, which is old Highway 10 (why ITD is responsible for it),” Kotschevar said. “I let them know that if a major water event happened, it would potentially be a disaster. Today it happened.”
Water was running down River Street, through the gas station, over the embankment, and through people’s yards before Kotschevar decided that if ITD wasn’t going to fix the problem, then he would do it himself.
“I decided as mayor, I needed to take matters into my own hands and eliminate the problem,” Kotschevar said. “I lined up excavators and was prepared to tear the culvert out of River Street. What was I supposed to do? Just sit there and wait for the state?”
Before Kotschevar could run it by the Mullan city Council though, ITD arrived on scene.
“I decided to wait until we could have an emergency city council meeting, but for some unknown reason ITD showed up when they heard I had an excavator ready to walk up the street and rip their culvert out,” Kotschevar said. “We could not wait.”
Kotschevar reiterated that six weeks ago there wasn’t an abundance of flowing water to work against and the whole emergency situation could have been averted if ITD had taken him seriously.
“They had six weeks to deal with this problem and they did nothing, so when disaster struck we got ready to matters into our own hands. It is mind boggling to me that for six weeks they did nothing.”
The Shoshone News-Press could not reach ITD for comment.
Flood waters are one of the many growing issues in Shoshone County as this year’s snow pack continues to melt at an alarming rate due to warm temperatures and heavy precipitation.