Wash. Community, Agencies Celebrate Expected Relief from Destructive Floodwaters; Claims Should Drop

September 30, 2004

Flood season is approaching but the Snoqualmie (Washington) community is reportedly resting a little easier now that work is essentially complete on a multi-million dollar river-widening project to reduce the threat of devastating floodwaters.

“Rain and snow will continue to fall in the Snoqualmie Valley, and with it will come flooding, but I think the residents of the Snoqualmie community already feel more secure with the completion of the Snoqualmie 205 project,” said Pam Bissonnette, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks Director. “We are delighted we were able to work with others and get this project done for the benefit of the citizens of the Snoqualmie area.”

King County, the City of Snoqualmie, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers joined the Snoqualmie community in celebrating completion of the Snoqualmie 205 Flood Reduction Project at the Salish Lodge.

Some work still remains, but the widening of the river above Snoqualmie Falls to open up a pair of bottlenecks in the river channel is complete. During high river flows, the bottlenecks held up water and contributed to the flooding of hundreds of homes and businesses in and around the City of Snoqualmie, historically one of the most flood-prone communities in the state.

“We are elated,” said Snoqualmie Mayor Fuzzy Fletcher. “The citizens who have suffered from chronic flood losses are the biggest winners of this project. This represents the first structural flood relief in the history of our city. It’s no coincidence that the National Flood Insurance Program has paid more claims in the City of Snoqualmie than in any other Washington city.”

Fletcher pointed out that flood damages in the Snoqualmie area occur whenever river flows exceed 30,000 cubic feet per second, which in the last 43 years has happened 25 times. Roughly two-thirds of the homes and businesses in and around Snoqualmie were flooded in November 1990.

“It has been a privilege to work with so many talented and caring partners on such an important regional project,” added Col. Debra Lewis, commander of the Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We expect that these flood-control measures will provide immediate public health and safety benefits. By reducing the frequency, duration and depth of flood water, the project will prevent damages of an estimated $837,000 per year.”

The Corps has identified more than 650 flood-prone structures in the Snoqualmie area, including three public schools, eight churches, 39 commercial structures, 25 mobile homes and 577 houses.

The channel excavation work has been completed under a $3.3 million dollar contract that the Corps of Engineers awarded to Goodfellow Brothers Inc., of Wenatchee, Wash. The contractor finished the in-river excavation on Sept. 14, and their remaining work should be complete in October.

Although the channel excavation work is nearly finished, other portions of the Snoqualmie project will continue into next year and beyond. The project will remove an abandoned railroad bridge, part of which fell into the river in 1990. It will also establish native vegetation on several riverbank areas.

Finally, the project includes a Downstream Assistance Program that will provide a cost share to downstream property owners who will raise their homes, barns, or other structures above 100-year flood levels.

Total cost of the entire project is estimated at $7.65 million, of which the Corps is funding $4.4 million.

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