Flash flooding issues along the Meadow Valley Wash in Caliente have been a problem in recent years, and coming up with the money for needed repairs and improvements has also been a concern.
City Flood Plane manager Ken Dixon, appeared before the County Commission this week asking if the County could declare a state of emergency in order to get some money from the Department of Emergency Management to help the city make further repairs and precautions against future flash flooding.
His question was more of does the county make the declaration, or can the Caliente City Council go directly to the state themselves for help regarding the flash flood that occurred on July 18 this year?
Dixon said Caliente had about 10,000 cubic yards of material come from different areas and plugged up the Meadow Valley Wash in that flood. “It created a hazard for the city. We have temporarily taken care of it, but it far exceeds our budgeted amounts. The city needs help financially to assist in this on going concern. Every time we get a big rain event, there’s a chance there is going to be flooding.”
The current problem, Dixon said, is somewhat of a legal issue, and which of the Nevada Revised Statutes pertain to the issue. “There is a discrepancy in the NRS,” he said. “In one statute it says the city has to go through the county commission, because that is the next level of government, but another section says the city can apply directly to the state.”
But he noted, “The clock is ticking, because we have declared an emergency, but now only have one month remaining to get the help, and whatever we need to do we need to get an answer.”
Commissioners did not have a ready answer and Paul Mathews made a motion to put the matter back on the Sept. 7 agenda, and they would have District Attorney Daniel Hooge look into the matter.
Commissioners Varlin Higbee and Kevin Phillips were absent from the meeting, and Mathews felt it would be better to have them informed of the situation as well. And since the specific item was not on the agenda for this meeting, no official action could be taken.
Dixon said Caliente City Attorney Dylan Frehner has not issued an opinion. “He is aware of the problem, but it is not his job to do it, and he concurs with what we have done so far.”
He added, “This is an issue the state has brought up themselves and they are supposedly looking into it as well.”
Commissioner Paul Donohue said the county has about $62,000 available in a given fund, but no motion was made to give that to the city.
Dixon said Caliente has made repairs in the wash to cover the immediate emergency, “but if we have another flood situation anywhere up Clover Canyon, above what is already there, we could be facing water in people’s houses again.”
County Fire Chief Rick Stever said he thought it would be best for the county not to submit a notice of intent to file for the emergency assistance program at this time, but rather have Caliente do it first.
He said he does not see Caliente’s current situation as an emergency, and it is not looked at that way by the state either. He said he has been asked how many people were displaced by the latest flooding, how many businesses were impacted, what roads were washed out? The state has a whole list of criteria they want to follow, and in Caliente’s case, the numbers were zero.”
Stever said if the city or the county declared the emergency, it would probably involve the interfinance committee from Carson City showing up to audit everything.
“If the county does not want to get reimbursed, I think we can just forego our declaration, sign the one from the city and send it on.”
Stever said he would also talk to the state Department of Emergency Management to see what information he could find about the funding questions.