Rivers flood, leaving a mess across Snohomish County

SNOHOMISH — Daylight Tuesday will bring the first chance to tally Snohomish County homes damaged and destroyed by Monday’s flooding.

Most local rivers were expected to crest Monday and then recede, leaving a mess of soil and silt behind.

At least one home was lost and many more were damaged as a burst of rain sent area rivers jumping their banks.

The biggest remaining concern here Tuesday lies in the valley south of Monroe, where the Snohomish River could stay high until early Wednesday, said John Pennington, director of the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.

“That entire stretch is still rising,” Pennington said Monday evening.

The Snoqualmie-Snohomish river system is expected to crest Tuesday morning. Monday’s flooding forced many Snohomish County families to scramble to protect their homes, cars and property.

The most damage was reported along the Pilchuck River between Snohomish and Granite Falls and along the Wallace River near Gold Bar. The county was working with the Red Cross in case emergency shelters were needed, though none had been requested as of mid-evening, Pennington said.

In Gold Bar, neighbors saw a small house fall into the river along 150th Street SE shortly before 1 p.m., fire Lt. Brandon Vargas said. The homeowner is believed to be out of town.

“The whole thing flipped down the bank and down into the river,” Vargas said. “They were still losing quite a bit of bank, and it was probably about 15 feet down from another house.”

Flood water 2.5 feet deep buried roads in the area of 399th Avenue SE and 145th Place SE in Gold Bar, Vargas said.

The Pilchuck was running “fast and furious,” Pennington said. The river flooded entire neighborhoods, leaving people watching from their porches as water rose around them, some with beers in hand. Roads were closed in trouble spots throughout the county. Logs ripped underneath bridges, and sheds disappeared into the muck.

As of Monday evening, the Pilchuck had crested at more than 19 feet. Along Sexton Road between the Pilchuck and U.S. 2, brown water encircled homes. One man tied a rope from his porch to an SUV parked out front so his wife could use a hand line to find her way inside when she got home from work.

Rhodessa DeFigh, 20, has lived along Sexton Road since she was 3 and is accustomed to the seasonal flooding in the area. Her family moves stuff out of the backyard this time of year.

She watched the latest flooding as she took a walk Monday with her cousin.

“I saw the rush of water,” she said.

Not far away, the River Park Place neighborhood along Orchard Avenue was under water. Several people moved cars to higher ground. Access to a few homes was washed out. One man was seen getting his boat ready, his two Pointer dogs splashing by his side.

Bryan Anderson, 67, stopped by to check on his RV lot on the river where he spends time in the summer. He’d been watching the river gauge from home.

“I have seen it much worse than this,” he said.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty to clean up.

“It will be full of sand and silt by the time it’s over,” he said. “It is unbelievable how much sand and silt it carries.”

The county sent out recorded telephone warnings about flooding to seven areas on Sunday and Monday, including the valley between Duvall and Monroe, Elliott Road near Snohomish, along the Pilchuck River and areas east and west of Oso.

Problems could persist this week in some areas if debris from Monday’s flooding causes backups, Pennington said.

In Lochsloy between Lake Stevens and Granite Falls, where crews have been monitoring the Pilchuck’s appetite along Highway 92, neighbors watched as the river climbed steep back yards.

Jessica Gleason took her chocolate Labrador named Mocha on a walk to see nearby pastures covered in water at Polestar Farm. Canadian geese skimmed the flood water mid-flight.

Water raged in the Oso area, swallowing driveways and yards along Deer Creek Road and other outposts. U.S. Geological Survey crews were posted on Whitman Road with monitoring equipment. They are keeping close tabs on how the North Fork Stillaguamish River behaves during its first flood season after being buried in the Oso mudslide.

In flood-prone Silvana, water rose quickly through the middle of the unincorporated small town early Monday afternoon.

Crews used a four-wheel-drive vehicle to push a van that drove into a flood area and got stuck in about two feet of rising water, Silvana Fire Chief Keith Strotz said. The rescue was on Pioneer Highway just east of town.

“People just do not understand how swift and high it can be,” Strotz said.

Trying to drive through flooded areas is the most common cause of flood-related deaths in Washington. It also is against the law.

In Arlington, the Haller Park boat launch flooded but other vulnerable areas remained above water.

Sheriff’s deputies also urged caution on Ben Howard Road where trees, dirt and debris were over the roadway. That Monroe-area road skirts stretches of the Skykomish River.

A stretch of Sultan Basin Road was closed by a washout along Olney Creek.

Sultan City Councilman Rocky Walker, a former volunteer firefighter, said he was keeping watch Monday but sandbag crews were not needed.

There was flooding at Sportsman Park, where the Sultan and Skykomish rivers meet, and across the water at Sultan River Park.

Clogged storm drains led to large puddles on roads in Stanwood. The city had a sandbagging station set up at the Public Works building, 26729 98th Drive NW.

“We’re mostly just out clearing those catch basins and putting up water over roadway signs,” city administrator Deborah Knight said. “It’s all very localized.”

The city of Everett reported some overflowing in its combined sewer-stormwater system in the north end of town, but there were no reports of liquid backing up into local basements, spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said.

The National Weather Service has forecast drier and warmer days ahead.

Tuesday was expected to be partly cloudy, but Wednesday and Thursday are forecast to be mostly sunny, with a high near 51. A chance of rain returns by Friday.

Reporters Kari Bray, Chris Winters and Amy Nile contributed to this story.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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