Sunday, January 11, 2009

Close Call Flooding

I'm sure by now everyone is aware of the crazy weather Washington has been experiencing this Winter. December brought us tons of snow and a sort of "White Christmas" and January brought torrential rains and flooding conditions. Needless to say its been exciting.

On Wednesday, after several days of pouring rain the rivers around Washington started to rise b/c of all the snowmelt in the mountains and the 20 inches of rain that fell there. We live about a block and a half away from the Puyallup River and our neighborhood is located on Levee Road. In the morning when I drove by the river on the way to the store I noted that the water seemed fairly high but no more different then normal river height after a lot of rain. It was also moving very rapidly. Later in the afternoon, my sister had came to visit and when she left said that Levee road had been closed down due to the river rising. After her phone call things started to get hectic real quick. I got a recorded phone call from the Fife Fire Department alerting our area of the high chance of flooding in our neighborhood and that it was strongly urged that we evacuate. I called Josh asking what I should do and he suggested to get some stuff together and head out of there.

Meanwhile, my Mom had called and said she was stuck in traffic trying to get to my house. (She was on her way to babysit Joey while I went to play volleyball). So I started trying to get things together as fast as I could. I flipped the news on and the situation seemed so elevated and that flooding was more than likely imminent. There were news helicopters and police sirens and firetrucks around my neighborhood by the time my mom arrived. It was so loud and it began to get a bit scary. An emergency personel came to our house and told us that we had 30 minutes to get out before they released the Dam b/c it was about to burst on its own. At that point I kicked it up in high gear and got everything together and threw random stuff in my car. While this was all going on Josh was at work so I had to get all this done by myself. I'm glad I had my mom there b/c it was pretty panicky in our whole neighborhood. We made it out of our neighborhood and was stuck in traffic for a good 30 minutes all the while being only 1 mile away from our house. About an hour later I got over to my parents house and turned on the news. Apparently the info had been changed or mixed up b/c the news said they wouldn't release the dam until the river crested. Needless to say the news, the county and emergency personel workers were not on the same page and sort of elevated the situation more then it needed to be.

After many hours of watching the news and getting different reports I finally just relied on what Josh had to tell me. He came home from work early and stayed at the house in case anything happened. The Puyallup River was expected to crest around 3am so it was kind of a long night waiting it out. In the morning it turned out the river crested below record flood stages. No Flooding! Thank Goodness! By the time I got home in the early afternoon the river had lowered a lot. By the next day we could see the road below the levee right next to the river again. While looking back on this it seemed silly (the whole panic and chaos of it all) but at the time it seemed all too real and all too scary. I've never had to deal with an emergency evacuation before and as I put all my stuff back that I took with me it went to show that the things that are most important will always be with me (Joey and Josh), everything else can be replaced.

*The Puyallup River, below record flood stage level. You can't tell from this angle, but there is a road below the road pictured. Its covered in water. This picture was taken the day after the emergency evacuation.