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City of Pacific declares state of emergency on flood-prone White River

Kyle Comanor, King County River and Floodplain Management engineer, prepares to enter a sodden Pacific Park to check out water levels on the White River in January. Heavy winter rains brought temporary urban flooding to the park.  - Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter
Kyle Comanor, King County River and Floodplain Management engineer, prepares to enter a sodden Pacific Park to check out water levels on the White River in January. Heavy winter rains brought temporary urban flooding to the park.
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter

The City of Pacific has declared a state of emergency on the flood-prone White River.

"There is no doubt that the capacity issue on the White River is a growing problem," Mayor Richard Hildreth said. "Since 2008, there has been an estimated six-foot increase in parts of the White River adjacent to Pacific Park. With the safe-carrying capacity of the river reduced from 13,000 (cubic feet per second) to less than 5,000 (cfs), the City … can no longer wait for other entities to complete other mitigation projects."

Hildreth said the passage of Resolution 1059 declares that an emergency exists and that any releases of water above 6,000 cfs will be considered an imminent threat to citizens.

"We realize that it will be impossible for the Army Corps to maintain releases under this figure," Hildreth said. "However, it is hoped this will put more pressure on the various agencies to approve measures to restore a safe capacity."

Hildreth said the City will be taking steps to obtain permits for the immediate removal of unstable woody debris from the White River and ultimately push for scalping of excess gravel/sand from the bars that have built up as a result of the debris.

"The City will take all appropriate measures to safeguard our citizens," Hildreth added. "However, in some cases, traditional temporary mitigation measures such as sandbags will not help and extraordinary measures may need to be taken."

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