Along the Stilly River, storm watchers are wary

ARLINGTON — The flood warning for the Stillaguamish River was canceled before sunrise Friday, but by noon the crowd watching in the rain here knew the Stilly was rising again.

Heavy rains in north Snohomish County forced the National Weather Service to reissue the flood warning Friday afternoon. Minor flooding was predicted in lowland areas near Arlington, with a crest expected late Friday evening. The rain was forecast to continue and the river was expected to keep running high through the weekend.

More than a dozen carloads of river watchers were at Arlington’s Haller Park, where the north and south forks of the Stillaguamish join. Huddled beneath umbrellas and wearing brimmed hats, some people walked out on the railroad bridge to get a better look.

Among those on the river bank was Jack Morrison, who lives in a nearby mobile home park that’s been flooded before.

“Just look at the power of that river,” he said “It’s pretty cool, but a little scary.”

Ken Lorenzen, also of Arlington, was surprised by the speed of the river and the amount of debris being swept along.

“I’m a storm watcher. I’m out here on my lunch break because it’s exciting,” Lorenzen said.

Carolyn Townsend and her husband, Jim, watched as numerous logs swept by.

“It’s running high and fast because the logs are being carried away and not hung up on the bridges,” she said.

At Island Crossing, Deann Beech fed her 40 goats and watched the river rise next to the house where she has lived for 15 years. She said she wasn’t worried about flooding and pointed to high ground where her animals would gather in case it did.

“If you live near a river, flooding is just part of it,” Beech said. “If it comes over the banks, it does. I’ve been up to my armpits in floods. That’s just the way it works.”

Jerry Stang and Chris Holdal, who live in the Silvana area, were taking a lunch break at the town’s tavern Friday afternoon. They, too, weren’t concerned about flooding, they said.

“If we had a whole bunch of snow melt, it might be a different story,” Holdal said. “But it’s not going to happen this time.”

West of Silvana, the home-schooled Scheffer siblings, Cannon, 7, Memrie, 10, Estee, 12, and their little brother Ransom, 4, pulled on their rubber boots and ran across the road to walk in the pond forming in the cornfield next to the river dike.

On Friday morning, Cannon had asked his parents about the cost of a canoe he might use in the river.

“The river is overflowing,” Cannon said. “It’s freaky.”

James McLean and Steve McLeod watched the river wash into the parking area at the state Fish and Wildlife Department boat launch just west of Marine Drive near the mouth of the Stillaguamish.

“Now that’s what I call a swift current,” he said. “My neighbors are getting out their sandbags and we’re hoping it doesn’t get any higher.”

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