Swollen rivers in Western Washington counties yesterday forced dozens of families to abandon their homes, stranded some motorists and closed some roads. But overall the major storm...
Swollen rivers in Western Washington counties yesterday forced dozens of families to abandon their homes, stranded some motorists and closed some roads.
But overall, the major storm the region was bracing for never materialized. Only pockets of Snohomish and Skagit counties reportedly had significant flooding, and many counties didn’t deploy the thousands of sandbags rescue workers and volunteers had prepared.
Flooding hit east Skagit County hardest, where about 20 homes on Cockerham Island, near Hamilton, and Thunderbird, east of Concrete, were evacuated as a precaution. No major damage was reported. A section of South Skagit Highway, off state Highway 9 east of Clear Lake, was washed out by the flood.
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The National Weather Service issued flood warnings last night for the Skagit, Skokomish, Snohomish and Snoqualmie rivers. In King County, 13 roads near Snoqualmie Valley were closed because of flooding from the Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers. There were no reports of significant damage.
The Snoqualmie River crested at Snoqualmie Falls in the upper valley early yesterday, and the flooding made its way to Carnation by last night, where the river crested 4 feet above flood level around 8 p.m.
County rescue workers began preparing for floods when the rivers started bulging Thursday after a rush of warm, wet air from near Hawaii swept through the Puget Sound region. Many areas, including Snoqualmie Pass, got more than 6 inches of rain.
County and city officials feared a repeat of October 2003, when floods in Skagit County caused $17 million in damage and forced 3,500 residents to evacuate. But over the past two days, the rain eased off.
“We dodged a major bullet,” said Logan Harris, spokesman for the King County Flood Warning Center.
Still, some motorists wound up stranded when they tried to drive on flooded streets.
In Snohomish County, two drivers tried to use a popular back road to cross May Creek, north of Gold Bar, late Friday. The flood carried one vehicle 100 yards before it hit a boulder and the other 50 feet before it struck a tree.
Officials from the Snohomish County Fire District reported the drivers didn’t realize the water had risen 4 feet.
As a precaution yesterday, the Army Corps of Engineers reinforced a thin dike on the Wallace River with truckloads of rocks. That dike protects 150 homes north of Gold Bar.
In nearby Sultan, Wes Smith, 20, of Index, went to the grocery store for his sister since streets in her neighborhood were under 3 feet of water. “I thought I would be able to drive my car through there,” said Smith who ended up walking part of the way to meet his sister.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.
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