Boundary County

All Hazards Mitigation Plan


Section 4

Hazard Profiles Overview

Hazards Considered  This All Hazards Mitigation Plan provides risk assessment and mitigation strategies for the hazards that have been determined to pose the most risk to Boundary County and/or must be addressed as required by the State of Idaho and FEMA.  In developing this plan, the Boundary County LEPC considered natural hazards, as follows:

Determination of Risk   Boundary County does not have a single data base for past incidents.  Therefore, a thorough review of newspaper reports from the last 50 years was conducted to determine what hazardous events have impacted the county.  In reviewing the various categories of hazardous events that have occurred in Boundary County, it is evident that almost every imaginable type of natural incident has occurred at least once, as well as a wide variety of events caused by human actions or inventions.  Some of the events were very damaging to property and lives.  Other events had great potential to be disastrous, but turned out to be of little consequence.

The LEPC determined that the following hazards pose the highest potential risk to the people and structures within Boundary County.  These hazards are listed from greatest to lesser threat.

  1. Major Fire Wildland and/or Urban
  2. Landslides and Erosion
  3. Severe Winter Storm
  4. Flooding
  5. Earthquakes

Plans  The current Boundary County Emergency Operations Plan lists a wide range of potential hazards, which the plan addresses.  The Operations Plans list includes all of the categories that were collected in the half-century  analysis.  It also addresses some potential hazards that have not occurred.

Responses Boundary County emergency responders deal with about ten newsworthy hazardous events (not including non-wildland fire) and about 49 wildland fires each year.  In the last half-century, one of every four responses to an event other than non-wildland fire has involved at least one fatality.  Not included in these statistics are car accidents.

A particular note must be made that in this county, most emergency responders are volunteers.  Most, if not all, responders to residential and industrial fires, transportation incidents, hazmat incidents, and search and rescue operations are volunteers.  It is a great tribute to the civic spirit of the citizenry of the county to have this level of volunteerism.  However, as incidents become more complex, volunteer crews present special and difficult problems.  Gaining the technical/expertise necessary through extensive training that involves days or weeks is almost impossible for volunteers to attain.  Few volunteers can afford to miss work to attain the training and few employers can afford to have one or more employees away from the job site for more than a day or two.  Even scheduling training exercises involving a mix of paid employees and volunteers presents problems.  It is typical for paid employees to expect to train during working hours.  Volunteers expect to train during "drill night.  

It must be emphasized, however, that when a hazardous event does occur in the county, large numbers of volunteers respond quickly.  They are more than willing to work hard to mitigate the effects of the event as quickly as possible.

Fire   Many feel that the county is better prepared to deal with forest fires than any other hazard.  The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) employ a significant work force to control wildfires.  These two agencies also have access to a large national supply and worker system.  This work force is very dependable because it is well trained, equipped and paid. 

Residential and industrial fires, industrial accidents and transportation incidents occur with a high frequency.  They are often tragic incidents due to the loss of property and human lives.

Landslides   The most common trigger for landslides is a combination of precipitation and human activities.  In the last century, most of the landslides in Boundary County have occurred on steep slopes adjacent to roads where the vegetation has been reduced or removed due to road construction or wildfire.  The major roadways in the county have received attention and monitoring, but proper development standards need to be instituted to reduce landslide potential, particularly on steep slopes.

Weather Weather incidents such as high winds and heavy snow or ice, can cause downed power lines, road and school closures, and similar incidents.  On the average, these events occur more than once a year.  Costs in direct losses are usually not high from these incidents, but they are disruptive to the business and lives of county residents.  Effects can be significant if the condition is long lasting and/or covers a wide area.

Flooding  Floods were relatively less frequent in occurrence than other hazardous events occurring during the period of analysis, but they were by far the most damaging to property.  A system of dikes was constructed to control flooding of the valley floor.  The dike has areas of concerns that the Army Corp of Engineers is currently assessing.

Earthquakes   There are no documented faults in Boundary County but the Purcell Trench runs through the center of the county.  Based on historical records and current information, LEPC feels that the earthquake risk is low in Boundary County.  Only three significant earthquakes have occurred in the county in the last 50 years, and there was no reported damage from any of them.  The primary risk comes from earthquakes that may occur along nearby fault lines elsewhere in Idaho or in Montana.