Nevada governor declares flood emergency |

Nevada governor declares flood emergency

Scott Sonner

RENO – Gov. Kenny Guinn declared a state of emergency Tuesday across several western Nevada counties hit hard by flooding as damage estimates surpassed the $10 million mark.

Damage to public property already is approaching $15 million, but aides to the governor said that does not include any damage to private property in the areas declared disasters – Carson City, Douglas, Lyon, Storey and Washoe counties.

“I want to make sure the state is doing everything we can to help our citizens and businesses recover from the disastrous flooding that occurred over the past weekend,” Guinn said in a statement from Carson City.

The governor toured much of Carson City and Reno on Sunday to get a firsthand look at the damage from torrential rains that began on Friday.

“Where the state can help repair bridges, roads and other infrastructure damaged by the flooding, we certainly want to lend a hand so we can get northern Nevada back to normal as quickly as possible,” Guinn said.

State emergency officials made their first preliminary estimate of damage to public property Tuesday as somewhere between $10 million and $15 million, Guinn’s spokesman Steve George told The Associated Press.

“But that’s just a general ballpark, public estimate, not private. That’s not homes or businesses – just roads, bridges, infrastructure. They are going out (Wednesday) with federal disaster officials to start looking around,” George said.

Guinn said he declared the state of emergency because local governments need the state’s assistance to “save lives, protect property and protect the health and safety of persons in this state.”

He said the flooding had caused substantial damage and destruction to public and private property through “excessive water run off, debris flow and mud slides.”

Heavy rain followed by snow turned to ice across much of northern Nevada early Tuesday, creating hazardous driving conditions and causing scores of accidents.

At least 20 accidents were reported in south Reno alone before daybreak, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.

“It’s a skating rink out there,” said Trooper Eddie Bowers.

No major accidents or injuries were reported and by midmorning, the ice on main roadways had melted.

The wintry blast was good news, though, for residents and businesses along the Truckee and Carson Rivers, as cold temperatures slowed runoff from weekend rains and allowed flood waters to recede.

“The water clearly has gone down, but there is still a lot of standing water” in some areas, said Adam Mayberry, spokesman for the city of Sparks. “It could have been significantly worse.”

Most damage in Sparks occurred in industrial areas and was significantly less than in 1997, when the Truckee River overflowed on New Year’s Day and caused $1 billion damage throughout Washoe County.

Local assessments of preliminary damage from the weekend damage were estimated at $1.3 million in Sparks; $2.8 million in Reno and $1.7 million in the county.

State officials planned an aerial tour later Tuesday or Wednesday of Carson City, Washoe, Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties, said Kamala Carmazzi, deputy chief for the office of emergency management.

She said teams comprised of federal, state and local officials could begin documenting damage on the ground by Wednesday.

“It’s the first step in the catalyst to requesting a presidential declaration,” Carmazzi said.

The local governments all declared states of emergency over the weekend.

– Associated Press writer Sandra Chereb contributed to this report.

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