Snohomish County offering grants to develop flood risk reduction projects

With heavy rain in the forecast, the level of concern is increasing for people who live and work in flood-prone areas. Snohomish County is looking for developers to take on flood risk reduction projects, all funded through federal dollars, to help protect impacted neighborhoods.

"The risk of catastrophic flooding is a reality for many Snohomish County residents and businesses. Aging infrastructure means that many communities are one storm away from losing everything in a flood. That’s why we’re using some of our federal recovery dollars to make smart investments in flood risk reduction infrastructure. With these dollars, we can preserve housing, make small businesses more resilient, and save lives," said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers

At Gagnon Welding 42 Inc., in Snohomish, iron workers pride themselves on quality, longevity and durability. However, with being less than 50 feet from the Snohomish River, even their most durable structures are sometimes no match when the water overflows.

"When you get out here and you see that river is a couple feet from the top, you’re like ‘oh!' It does make you nervous," said Ryan Gagnon, owner of Gagnon Welding 42 Inc.

Gagnon bought the place six years ago. He said the year prior to his purchase, four feet of water spilled inside from the flooded river. As weather events continue growing in intensity, Gagnon said he always checks the river levels, worried the next storm could have his shop underwater.

"Even if we expect a flood, we’re going to have to shut down for a day or something ahead of time and then wait. And then, we can’t do production and we can’t work," said Gagnon.

There are similar concerns for people who live near water in Snohomish County, and local leaders hope to fix that. There is grant money available through the County’s Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation to fund flood risk reduction projects. It’s a step to help protect housing and small businesses like Gagnon’s from getting washed away.

"We employ people that need to support families. And if we are flooded, we’re out of work," said Gagnon. "That’s a lot of impact and generations."

It’s also a lot of history that could be affected by flooding. Gagnon’s shop has been standing since 1898 and some of the machines were installed almost 100 years ago. He said the building has flood insurance, but almost everything inside isn’t covered because it’s too expensive.

"Like our other saw, it’s an $80,000 saw. The components are two feet off the ground. There’s no way we’d be able to get it off the ground, said Gagnon.

County officials said the grant money would fund capital projects, including:

  • Dike improvements, repair/maintenance
  • Setback dike construction
  • Tide-gate/pump station repair, replacement or upgrades

The grants will also pay for planning and design projects, including: 

  • Setback dike planning and design
  • Planning for climate change and sea level rise considerations
  • Infrastructure needs assessment
  • Develop emergency preparedness plans

County officials said applications for this grant must come from flood and drainage management Special Purpose Districts in Snohomish County and/or a City in partnership with one of the Districts. Anyone with questions in encouraged to email SnohomishCounty.Recovers@snoco.org.

Though the county is looking for specific candidates, it has Gagnon thinking of ideas of how he too can proactively protect his shop.

"The impact for me to remodel this is out of tolerance. So, I have to have floodgates on my walls. I got to build my walls on concrete. And that’s impact too, so maybe they can help me on that," said Gagnon.

Developers and organizations interested in the grant must submit an application by 4 p.m. on Jan. 27. The application and additional information is available here.