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King County beefs up temporary flood protection in Pacific
Citing a higher risk of flooding in Pacific this year owing to sediment buildup in the White River, the King County Flood Control District plans to beef up temporary emergency flood protection in the City in the next couple of weeks.
Flood district officials, King County leaders and Mayor Leanne Guier were at Pacific City Park on Tuesday to announce the addition of 3,000 feet of temporary HESCO barriers to deal with possible flooding.
"We're here today to announce aggressive emergency actions to protect the City of Pacific from what could be very significant flooding this fall and this winter," said Reagan Dunn, chair of the Flood District Board of Supervisors. "The King County Flood District, combined with King County, the City of Pacific and with partnership from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are placing additional emergency flooding measures (HESCO barriers) along three sections of the White River here in the City of Pacific, nearly 3,000 feet."
Dunn said sediment buildup in the White River is higher than previously anticipated.
"It's a glacier-fed stream and a lot of sediment comes down the river and changes the dynamic bottom of the river, which can raise the level and increase flooding in a flood event," Dunn said.
The HESCO barriers, provided at no cost by the Corps of Engineers, are to be placed in Pacific City Park, near Third Place Southeast and along the eastern edge of the White River Estates.
In addition to lengthening the HESCO barrier, King County workers are to widen the barrier and increase its height in places.
"It's hard to imagine on a sunny day in October what happened here in 2009," said Pete von Reichbauer, the Flood District Supervisor who represents Pacific on the King County Council. "We lost $5 million in residential cost and $10 million in commercial job loss in the region when we had the flooding in 2009."
Dunn said the temporary project should take two to three weeks to complete.
In addition to the temporary barriers, plans are in the works for permanent protection for Pacific residents against White River flooding.
Jeanne Stypula with the King County River and Floodplain Management Section said two capital projects were under way to rework the levee system in Pacific.
The Right Bank Project will move and heighten the levees on the west side of the river, increasing elevation to withstand a 100-year flood.
The County Line Project will tear down levees along the east bank and allow future high water events to flow into the undeveloped forest lands up to the railroad tracks.
"This will give the river more room to fan out during high flows, increasing the capacity of the channel to hold water and provide more area for gravel to be deposited," said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
Each project is in the design phase, according to Stypula, with costs expected to run $14 million dollars for each. Funding is already in place for the projects.
"It's all allocated through the flood district levy, 11.5 cents per $1,000 evaluation," Dunn said. "That includes these projects. They're already budgeted and in the plan because they're such a high priority and affect so many people."
"We're in a weather cycle that has traditionally produced some of our most devastating storms," Constantine said. "So we need to do additional work now to protect the citizens of Pacific."
Guier added: "It is important our citizens know that these protection measures will help, but do not eliminate the very real threat of flooding. We need to take steps now to prepare for the possibility of floodwaters."