Residents in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood said Tuesday morning brought the worst flooding they had seen in years as a king tide and heavy rains caused water to spill into at least 13 homes, according to local nonprofit Duwamish River Community Coalition.
The Duwamish River began to recede by late morning, but standing water prevented five families from returning to their homes, said Paulina López, executive director of the coalition. Lopez lives in South Park but her home was unaffected by the flooding. She and other residents said the neighborhood is mostly Latino or Cambodian.
Reasmey Choun, who lives on the ground level of a two-story home on Chicago Street, woke up a little before 8 a.m. to the sound of water entering her home. Within an hour, it had settled above the doorknob of the front door.
Choun, her mother, niece and dog escaped through a window wearing only their robes and slippers, and got into her mother’s large SUV parked on higher ground.
Choun went back inside to grab her laptop for work, but everything else — the carpet, the furniture, her birth certificate — was submerged or floating. Outside, garbage from overturned cans bobbed around her house.
“We lost everything,” Choun said.
As of late Tuesday morning, Choun said they don’t have next steps yet. “We’re just kind of stuck in the car right now.”
Seattle Public Utilities took the lead to support impacted households. A spokesperson for the utility said the city has provided emergency housing for some of the families who could not return to their homes.
López said people can donate food, blankets and clothes for the affected families to the Duwamish River Community Coalition.
Seattle police Detective Valerie Carson said officers directed traffic away from the flooded areas. According to Seattle fire Lt. Sue Stangl, firefighters responded to two calls related to the flooding. A family had driven their vehicle into a flooded street and needed help getting out and a commercial building started steaming after its power source became submerged in water. The Fire Department said Seattle City Light shut the power off, neutralizing the threat. No firefighters were in South Park as of 11:20 a.m.
Residents in South Park are used to flooding, but Tuesday morning’s was especially bad due to the combination of a low-pressure storm system that drenched the region and a king tide that saw sea levels rise dramatically, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Reedy. A king tide is a high tide where the gravitational pull is amplified when the moon and sun are aligned with the Earth.
The tide Tuesday morning was 2 to 3 feet higher than what it normally reaches this time of year. Reedy said it was a confluence of factors not tied to climate change.
Government agencies throughout the Puget Sound region reported road closures due to flooding on Tuesday. The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for much of Western Washington through Wednesday morning.
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