Weekend flooding closes roads, damages crops

CARNATION, Wash. – Stormy weather last weekend caused flooding that closed roads and washed out crops near Carnation and Fall City - and that's likely just the beginning of what could be a very wet few months.

Though a warmer, drier winter is expected throughout the Pacific Northwest, King County officials have warned that the risk of major flooding is high.

If this weekend was just a warm-up, it could be an expensive winter.

Carnation's Jubilee Biodynamic Farm, for instance, is out thousands of dollars in profits on its harvest - and it's still tallying the damage. Farmers still haven’t been able to count all the crops that were lost when high floodwaters pushed produce off the fields and into the parking lot.

Farmer David Haakenson said flooding came much sooner than anyone expected.

“We think more of Thanksgiving as the start of flood season,” he said. “October is early.”

Flooding isn't limited to rural areas. County officials said there are many more people in Western Washington who live inside a flood plain.

“We know this from experience,” said King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “Flooding affects tens of thousands of residents in King County.

Lyon Creek in Lake Forest Park used to be notorious for flooding. A $7 million mitigation plan along the creek is designed to save lives and reduce the cleanup cost after storms.

“It may not look like it today, but Lyon Creek has the capability of washing someone downstream,” said Northshore Fire Chief Jim Torpin.

The heavy rains pushed both the Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers over their banks, flooding streets and farmland.

Haakenson said flooding comes with the territory near Fall City. He has to wait for the water to recede to determine which crops he can salvage in the fields.

“By now the damage is done,” he said. “We’ll spend the next few weeks getting things cleaned up and put away.”

County officials issued a reminder to prepare for rising rivers, suggesting homeowners purchase sand bags before they’re needed.

It takes only one inch of flood water in a house to cause more than $10,000 in damage.