News

Plateau soaked, but most water is handled

By Kevin Hanson

The Courier-Herald

The rain kept coming and area rivers and streams quickly filled, but the Plateau was spared any serious flooding during last week's bout of inclement weather.

Concerns over possible flooding were the greatest along the Carbon River and South Prairie Creek, with the latter going over its banks in certain areas.

However, the Plateau's major waterways were kept in check by a pair of dams. Authorities with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were holding water behind Howard Hansen Dam on the Green River and Mud Mountain Dam on the White River.

"There weren't any special problems," said Larry Schick, a meteorologist with the Corps of Engineers' Seattle office. "Both dams did their job."

Schick said last week's weather was serious enough to keep everyone on alert. "It wasn't a major flood, but it was enough to cause some concern," he said.

The tricky part, Schick said, was determining how fast to release the volume of water suddenly stored behind the dams. There was a need to drain the reservoir, he said, in case another wave of rain hit the area; however, dropping river levels too fast can damage the banks.

The heavy rain early last week created problems in Mount Rainier National Park, including one area accessible by the Plateau. The Carbon River Road in the northwest corner of the park, which is constantly prone to damage from heavy rains, was closed at the park entrance. Washouts occurred in several places along the road, making it off-limits to automobile traffic.

An assessment of the road damage is under way, and the road remains closed indefinitely.

In Enumclaw, the persistent rain created problems with standing water in the areas of Rainier Avenue, Second Street, Scandia Avenue, Warner Avenue (east of the highway) and Jewell Avenue.

Public Works Director Chris Searcy noted the county had a problem with a local stormwater pond that overflowed, impacting a nearby motel, and one resident reported a sewage backup.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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