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You've got mail: First bills for Three Forks flood mitigation to hit mailboxes in November

The proposed mitigation channel will take Three Forks out of the Jefferson River floodplain by capturing floodwater and directing it back into the river before it reaches town.
Posted at 2:08 PM, Nov 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-09 16:08:30-05

THREE FORKS — Three Forks taxpayers can expect a little surprise in their mailbox this November: the first of 20 years’ worth of bills for the flood mitigation special improvements district.

“With the severe weather changes we’ve had, it’s certainly something to be educated about and be concerned with and be prepared for,” said David Soileau.

David Soileau says living in Three Forks, in a flood plain, weighs heavy on his mind sometimes. So, paying $195 a year for a new flood diversion channel is okay with him.

According to City Clerk Kelly Smith and City Treasurer Crystal Turner, the special improvement district was created last October to pay for the $5.5 million project.

In the last few years, FEMA remapped Three Forks and included an additional 152 acres, which is now a designated flood plain.

If a flood were to happen, the city has estimated it could cause over $60 million in damage.

A scary thought; in fact, when Smith and Turner first heard the news, they thought about quitting.

“We sure did, we talked about it,” said Smith.

“If she goes, I go, because that was not going to be fun to work through alone,” said Turner.

But they feel better now.

“Now that we have a plan,” said Smith.

And a possible $4.15 million grant from FEMA.

The proposed mitigation channel will take Three Forks out of the Jefferson River floodplain by capturing floodwater and directing it back into the river before it ever reaches town.

Construction of the new channel is slated to begin in 2025, but the city is still waiting for environmental permitting.

And even though there’s still plenty of work to be done before the channel is built—

“I’m going to be happy that we took the time to look into it further and know all the details to keep us safe,” said Soileau.