World & Nation

Flooding in eastern Washington state reaches emergency levels

In this Wednesday, May 9, 2018 photo, At a class to learn about sand bagging to keep flooding at bay
Ryan Revard, center, learns how to place sandbags to build a dike at the Kalispel Tribe headquarters in Usk, Wash., as part of a class Wednesday. Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed a state of emergency Saturday for flooded counties in the region.
(Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review via Associated Press)

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed a state of emergency Saturday for counties in the eastern part of the state that are experiencing severe flooding.

Flooding is affecting Ferry, Okanogan and Pend Oreille counties and could get worse next week.

The proclamation covers these three communities plus 17 other eastern Washington counties facing an increased threat of flooding over the next seven days.

“Flooding caused by recent rains and snowmelt has fouled water and sewage treatment facilities, threatened state highways and local roads, and caused some people to leave their homes,” Inslee said. “Continued higher temperatures are predicted to increase snowmelt and cause additional flooding as rivers and streams continue to rise to record or near-record levels.”


State agencies and local jurisdictions are coordinating resources to address the effects of the flooding, and the governor’s proclamation directs state agencies to implement appropriate response activities.

The State Emergency Operations Center at the Washington Military Department’s Camp Murray was activated Saturday to monitor local efforts and coordinate resources to help officials respond. The proclamation allows the governor to activate resources of the Washington National Guard, if necessary.

The National Weather Service predicts major flooding of the Okanogan River near Tonasket to continue through next week, the Spokesman-Review reported.

The Okanogan River, which runs through Tonasket, reached a level of 19 feet early Friday morning, which is above the 15-foot flood stage.


Okanogan County announced Friday afternoon that it had opened its Emergency Operations Center to coordinate communication about region floods.

The city of Omak has a levee that’s handling water flow but is experiencing backup in storm drains. Some residents and businesses in Omak are dealing with basement flooding, according to an Omak Police Department release. Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Okanogan County Emergency Management are continuing to monitor river levels.

Omak City Administrator Todd McDaniel said the city brought in additional pumps to handle water flow and is on 24/7 watch.

“We believe the levee is going to hold. We are concerned about [water] seepage coming in, but I think we’ll be fine,” he said. “We are hoping we don’t have anyone displaced.”

The Pend Oreille River is forecast to reach a flow of more than 118,000 cubic feet per second by Thursday, which hasn’t occurred since 2011.

The Kettle River reached a crest of 22 feet Friday and is expected to remain above record levels for the next week, the National Weather Service said.

Though the stretch of the Spokane River in Spokane has not yet reached above the flood stage, it was near flood stage Friday. But meteorologists predict it will likely crest there and recede next week.

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