Lemmon Valley waters rise as do fears of flooding

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LEMMON VALLEY, Nev., (KOLO) Most Decembers would find Lemmon Valley's Swan Lake a mostly dry playa with perhaps a minimal pool.

"Usually at this time of year you can walk across the lake behind my house," says homeowner Tracy Hall.

Hall speaks from a long association with this valley and its lake. She grew up there. In that time she saw the lake rise, but nothing to compare with last winter's flooding. She and her family were driven from their home. Since last March they've been living elsewhere.

Today, the home shows signs of settling. Doors won't close. It's likely invaded by mold. The lake begins a short distance from her back door, and some of her property is still underwater.

They're not planning on returning. They've applied for a buyout offered to a few homeowners. If the county and FEMA approve, they'll sell their ten acres, which will then become open space never to be built on again.

It's a tough decision, but, "We're going to flood again. It's just a matter of time. It's so high right now I believe it's going to cause problems for more people out here."

In fact, the county is moving to protect this area if that should happen. Work began Monday on a new berm just to the south of Hall's property. It and more of the special barriers may be needed if the winter ahead is wet again.

Talk with people out there and you will hear them wonder why the county didn't do this work over the summer when the water was at least a little lower. County officials say it's an expensive project and they didn't move until the threat became clear.

Residents of this and other Lemmon Valley neighborhoods say they've had that fear for most of a year as they've lived with the aftermath of last winter. Now with the approach of another and the lake already high, they fear what lies ahead.

"We don't ever want to go through this again. This has been a nightmare for us."

County commissioners will see a request for an additional $300,000 at their December 12 meeting to buy more artificial barriers to connect with the new berm they're building. Applications for the buyout program must be in by the end of this week.