Stillaguamish River recedes, leaving a soaking mess

GRANITE FALLS — Tim Horton had been warned to expect flooding after he and his family moved in February to a home along the South Fork Stillaguamish River.

The Florida transplant didn’t expect the waters to reach 5 feet up the side of his house, cake his yard with mud and wipe out a good chunk of his back yard.

On Monday, the 34-year-old was among the many cleaning up his garage and basement after the Stillaguamish reached record levels a day earlier.

“Everybody’s been real supportive so I think we’ll bounce back,” Horton said.

Monday was a day for boots, shovels and pumps as people returned to homes and businesses to assess damage.

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said much work remained for assessing damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure. He took a helicopter tour Monday over some of the affected areas. Damage would have been worse, he said, were it not for preparation by county crews, such as distributing 1,100 yards of sand and 5,000 sandbags.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the county that levees and dikes along Ebey Island in the lower Snohomish River were secure and under close watch.

The Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross had just one family staying at an emergency shelter at a Stanwood church as of Monday afternoon, said Chuck Morrison, the chapter’s executive director. Several other people had called about the shelter, and Morrison said it was possible that others would show up. Shelters in Granite Falls and Mountlake Terrace closed Monday.

Just outside Arlington, the flood’s power was in evidence along Highway 530 near Twin Rivers County Park. Waters knocked over more than a dozen concrete highway barriers and turned soccer fields to mush.

Along Schloman Road, across the Stillaguamish from downtown Arlington, people threw a ball for a dog to fetch in a newly formed pond in a front yard. On Sunday, they said, they had gone kayaking in the yard and in nearby fields.

“Yesterday, we were standing on the dike about 11 o’clock, watching the water seeping up into the yard,” said Kris Marrinier, 23, who dropped by to see if his friend at the house needed help. “Finally, it came up into the front yard here.”

The lifelong Arlington resident said the flooding was the worst he’d seen, though the floods of 2008 were close.

Back in Granite Falls, Horton pointed to a tree that used to stand in his back yard on 116th Place NE. On Monday, it was overturned in the rushing Stillaguamish.

His neighbors warned him about the approaching storm. He couldn’t sleep Saturday night. By about 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, floodwaters began rushing into his basement. He remembered seeing huge trees carried along in the current and some of them crashing into the bank near his house.

He moved some of his stuff upstairs, and within an hour the water was ankle-deep.

“The second I touched that water it was ice cold, like pins and needles,” Horton said.

He began moving his four children, fiancee and two dogs out of the house to higher ground. He carried his youngest kids and his dogs. By the time they all got out, the water was waist-deep, he said.

The family returned home Sunday evening. The Stilly left behind a thick coating of muck and created a mess in the lower half of his house.

Malinda Lulham has lived in the neighborhood since 2005. She was there when the flooding swept along the Stilly in 2006. That year the water reached about a foot higher on her house than happened Sunday, she said.

“We’re pretty prepared,” she said. “You chose to live on the river and deal with it.”

Flood assistance

To report property damage to the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, call 425-388-5088.

•Check with your insurance agent to check on your coverage.

Keep detailed records of all cleanup and repair costs. Take photographs.

To report a landslide to the state Department of Natural Resources, e-mail photos and information to DNR_GEO_landslide@sharepoint.dis.wa.gov. A form and instructions are available at the DNR website, www.dnr.wa.gov.

Cleanup kits and sanitation tips were being distributed by the Red Cross from Granite Falls City Hall, 206 S. Granite Ave.; the Stanwood Fire Department, 8117 267th St. NW; and at the Chapter Office in Everett, 2530 Lombard Ave.

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