Damage is measured in millions

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By Kevin Hanson-The Courier-Herald

Mount Rainier National Park suffered devastating losses during this month's rain storms, but the north side of the park fared pretty well, considering the circumstances.

“(State Route) 410 really rode out the storm quite well,” park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga told an Enumclaw audience last week. “There's a lot of damage but nothing catastrophic.”

Uberuaga spent more than an hour Thursday afternoon bringing the Enumclaw community up to date on park damages, before heading to Eatonville for a similar session Thursday night. The meetings were quickly called to keep the public informed regarding the level of damage within the park boundaries.

“We want to give you a feel for what we're up against,” Uberuaga said. “We've never had anything that's been so devastating in all sections of the park.”

He said initial cost estimates have yet to be finalized, but it will surely take “millions and millions of dollars,” to repair damages caused by the heavy rains and ensuing flooding.

Throughout the park, rivers and creeks crested above their banks. Raging waters took out sections of roads, ripped bridges from their footings and flooded campgrounds.

On the north side of the park, more than two miles of the Carbon River Road were lost due to washouts in at least four places. In the White River Campground, a section of road was destroyed and a portion of the park was turned into a stream bed. The Ipsut Creek Campground was flooded and a deep gully was eroded directly under Input Cabin.

But that was relatively mild compared to the damage found on the south side of the mountain.

At Longmire, a corner of the Emergency Operations Center was undercut by water and a parking lot was destroyed. Large landslides tore up roads and the Sunshine Point Campground was swept away.

In all, 82 park employees were assigned to deal with the storm's aftermath, as of late last week. They were getting assistance from workers from Redwood, Yosemite and Sequoia national parks and Dinosaur National Monument.

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