We may not be singing in the rain, but we are optimistic about this last week of downpours.
Yep, as the rain came down beginning Sunday, Jan. 15 our hopes came up as we noticed that flooding in Aberdeen was almost non-existent. And that’s with nearly 5 inches in just a few days!
After weeks of freezing weather, the icy ground could have made it especially difficult to swallow all that water. However, due to luck and diligence, we were spared a flooding incidence.
LUCK AND DILLEGENCE
It’s easy to complain when things go wrong, but often even more fruitful to compliment when things go right.
So, we talked with Aberdeen’s Public Works Director Rick Sangder about our observation that this latest downfall didn’t seem to cause nearly the flooding issues that one might have expected.
We noticed that the Finch playfield, which serves as a retention pond, wasn’t all that full and that there were only one or two notable puddles in the streets.
“Overall, we went through it really well,” Sangder agreed.
“We were nervous about the frozen earth not allowing water to perk into the ground, but it didn’t seem to be much of a problem.”
Sangder said the tides – often a huge compounding factor for local flooding– were on our side this time!
(A cycle of extra high “king” tides ran from about Jan. 8 to Jan. 14, thankfully a period of mostly dry and cool weather in Aberdeen. The next winter king tides will occur Feb. 7-12, but are predicted to be lower than the November, December and January king tide cycles.)
Also, this late in the winter, there are many fewer leaves to clog up grates, he said.
Another contributing factor could even be that this time the rains came a little more steady instead of starting with a huge downpour, he noted, observing that this might have helped the drainage systems operate more efficiently.
Also, not having many mudslides recently was a factor. Those slides end up in the storm water drainage system and compound the problem for current and future rain events
That all being said, there is still plenty of kudos to pass around.
“All our pumps are up and running and our storm water guys have been working hard to keep the systems reliable,” Sangder said.
“Our system is evolving. We don’t have the newest pumps and often one is down – we do have pumps burn up every year – but right now they are all working.”
The ongoing, day-to-day work of maintaining the system paid off, he said. “We continue to use the Vactor vacuum truck to suck out the sediment and debris as ongoing maintenance to keep our system clean,” he said.
Good work, crew! It makes a difference!!
DID YOU HELP OUT TOO?
For years we’ve been advocating that citizens take it upon themselves to clean up storm drains near their houses to help prevent localized flooding. We’re wondering (and hoping) that enough folks are doing just that to make a difference.
Maybe one of those folks was you. If so, thanks!
If not, it’s not too late to join us in noticing plugged grates and lending a hand. Yes, it is the job of the city crews to maintain the system; however, common sense dictates that during a heavy rain, they can’t possibly go to every drain to see if a plastic shopping bag is clogging the grate.
So, cleaning out the street drain near your house is something that you can do early on when you see water pooling during a downpour.
Yes, it’s not preventing a 100-year flood. However, thwarting huge puddles, hydroplaning cars and wet pedestrians can usually be accomplished by someone with a garbage sack, a rake and a little initiative. And sometimes it’s those small things—like a puddle-free street – that make life more pleasant and our towns a better place to live.
OPTIMISTIC ABOUT FUTURE
As you may remember, in the last two years Aberdeen and Hoquiam have been working on a masterplan to combat our major and minor flooding issues.
Well, that TimberWorks Master Plan is complete and continues to move forward.
This Master Plan contains a list of flooding-related projects to pursue, including two that are already underway: the North Shore Levee and the Fry Creek Restoration and Flood Reduction projects.
If you’d like to take a look at this comprehensive plan, it’s available in the Finance Director’s Office in Aberdeen and online at www.ezview.wa.gov/aberdeen floodrelief.
The plan hits the flooding problems in Aberdeen and Hoquiam from just about every angle.
One key part of it is the North Shore Levee, a proposed system of earthen dikes, floodwalls, raised roadways and new or improved pump stations. The North Shore Levee’s target are of protection is bordered by the east bank of the Hoquiam River, Grays Harbor Bay-Chehalis River to the south and the west bank of the Wishkah River to the east.
This large project is a huge step toward the ultimate goal of providing protection for the most flood-prone areas of both cities and relieving people of the financial burden of expensive flood insurance.
The latest good news is that is that the plan is very close to 60 percent complete.
The significance of that is that once it reaches 60 percent it will be reviewed. If all is well, those currently easily flooded areas could receive a conditional letter of map revision (CLOMR) from FEMA, which is a key step toward changing the flood maps.
“We are on the list of 17 with very good anticipation that we will be funded for the final design,” Sangder said.
There’s much more to be said about this and we hope to do so next week. We just wanted to let you know that the flooding problems, big and small, are being addressed.
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Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.
Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.