On Jan. 5, 1969, floodwaters surged out of the Snohomish River and other area waterways, flooding the valley and engulfing homes, including some near Snohomish. (Herald photo courtesy of Sno-Isle Libraries)

On Jan. 5, 1969, floodwaters surged out of the Snohomish River and other area waterways, flooding the valley and engulfing homes, including some near Snohomish. (Herald photo courtesy of Sno-Isle Libraries)

Looking back: Floodwaters spill into the Snohomish River Valley

January 1969 event was a portent of worse to come.

On Jan. 5, 1969, melting snow pushed the debris-laden Snohomish River five feet above flood stage. Cresting at 30.64 feet, water spilled into the surrounding valley. Several homes were inundated, mostly on the south bank, a common occurrence in the area during high water events. Search and rescue crews, working late into the night, helped 44 people from their homes mostly in the Snohomish area, according to a front page story in the following day’s Everett Herald. At one point, the current was so swift that two amphibious “Duck” boats being used for the rescues were in danger of being swept into adjacent fields.

Sightseers proved problematic with rescuers having to deal with several stalled cars.

Seeping water also undermined the roadbed of the Great Northern Railway tracks at Snohomish leaving the ends of several ties hanging without support. Workers placed sandbags and loads of huge boulders during the night to keep the line open.

Dozens from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deployed to sandbag area dikes. All held but some were overtopped by muddy waters in some areas.

In the Gold Bar area, the Wallace River also surged from its banks that Sunday afternoon, washing out two cabins and forcing the evacuation of several people from their homes.

No injuries or lost livestock were reported.

By the following day, the waters had begun to recede.

Six years later, the same areas would be subject to one of the worst floods in Snohomish County history.

In December 1975, the Snohomish River crested at 33.16 feet, resulting in six-day flood that caused millions of dollars in damage and the loss of an estimated 3,500 head of cattle and other livestock.

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