Published: Sunday, December 12, 2010, 8:23 p.m.
The rushing Stillaguamish River set a new flood record during Sunday's swamping of Granite Falls, Arlington and Stanwood.
The Stilly at Arlington was measured at 21.16 feet just after 4 p.m. That's 7.1 feet over flood stage.
The record high, set during the devastating flood of 2006, was 21.06 feet. That year flood damages cost an estimated $28.9 million in Snohomish County.
Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon issued an emergency declaration for the county's flooded areas.
“That frees up additional county resources for quicker response and helps any resident or business start documenting damage,” Reardon spokesman Christopher Schwarzen said Sunday. “It's a first step toward requesting a federal declaration. We can't ask the feds for help unless we take that step. We've had some records on the Stillaguamish.”
It will take a few days for property owners, insurers and government officials to tally the damage from the weekend floods, caused by warm rains blowing in from Hawaii.
Flooding isn't over yet, with high waters along the Snohomish River expected to crest this morning.
In the coming days the county's Department of Emergency Management will work with the Public Works department to spearhead damage assessment for roads and bridges, Schwarzen said.
High water and hovercraft
Near Jordan Road, between Arlington and Granite Falls, Susan Fargher didn't expect the Stillaguamish River to jump its banks so quickly.
When she saw the angry, brown water roiling around her home Sunday morning, she called firefighters and her daughter in Marysville, asking for help.
It was first time in the 18 years she's lived along the river that she needed to be rescued.
Before long, a noisy search-and-rescue hovercraft was at her door. Fargher was carried to safety, clutching a plastic shopping bag and a backpack. She spent the next 10 minutes apologizing for being a bother and thanking those who came to her aid.
“It came up so fast,” said her daughter, Sarah Jerde, 21. “She's put everything up. She was worried that a log would come floating down, hit the house and take it off its foundations.”
The water raced under the Jordan Bridge with such ferocity that it howled like a jet engine at full burn.
Kattianne Chapman, 14, her sister, Megan, 12, and their friend, Brooke Blue, 12, huddled under umbrellas, taking in the spectacle.
“I've seen it this high, but I've never seen it this fast,” Kattianne said.
Phone tree spreads the word
In Stanwood, high school students and adults worked quickly to fill sandbags at Twin City Foods.
Nearly 75 people huddled together shoveling and tying bags while pallets of filled bags were loaded onto trucks. A school district phone tree alerted most of the people who offered to help.
Herb Crockett and his son Connor, 6, showed up in matching rainproof camo outfits.
“I'm here to keep water out of people's houses,” Connor said. “We have to keep the Stilly out.”
Stanwood High School students William Metzger, 16, Kevin Downs, 17 and David Aristo, 17, said they showed up because of the phone calls to their homes.
“We've helped before, so we know what to do,” Downs said. “We weren't doing anything this afternoon, so sandbagging makes us feel good because we're helping our community.”
Allen Carpenter had no choice but to come help.
He's lived in Stanwood 35 years. His house was in good shape, but his brother-in-law's front steps were under water.
“I've lived here forever. I just want to help protect the town,” he said. “When you're in a town like this, you're kind of all family. You stick up for each other.”
A few Boy Scouts worked at the top of the pile of sand.
Steve Dunn, of Smokey Point, had led his son's troop in an emergency preparedness drill just last week. His son, Andrew Dunn, 13, had been working toward his Eagle Scout review Thursday night. He was looking for ways to help Sunday morning when the text arrived about sand bagging.
“He said, ‘Well, I have to do me a good turn today,” Steve Dunn said.
South county gets some urban flooding
Jon Parrott, 54, was putting sandbags along the back of his house after the water from Lake Ballinger rose to spill into his crawlspace in just a matter of hours.
“I have 55 bags,” Parrott said, “I'm going to need at least 155.”
He and his wife Shirley bought the house on Lake Ballinger Way in August. They got home from a party Saturday night and the water was still at the end of their yard. He figured he's sleep in Sunday morning because church didn't begin until 9 a.m. Shirley Parrott woke him up early when she saw the water rising too quickly.
“I was trying not to panic, but it was coming up to the house,” she said.
Neighbors Gary Wallinder, 68, and Herta Grenzer, 71, weren't too worried. Their home is built on higher ground and didn't think the water could reach their house. Grenzer said they've learned to prepare for the rains. “We have a boat house down there,” she said pointing to a building filled up with water. “We learned every fall to put everything up.”
Emergency shelters opened
The Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross had three shelters open by Sunday afternoon — in Stanwood, Granite Falls and Mountlake Terrace — to help people affected by flooding.
The agency also opened a Red Cross Emergency Operating Center Sunday morning at its Everett office, 2530 Lombard Ave.
Red Cross spokeswoman Connie Lewis said that according to agency officials there was one client at the Stanwood shelter, one at Granite Falls with three on their way, and a family of four at the Mountlake Terrace shelter by Sunday afternoon.
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