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A final word from someone who knows
Even if floodwaters from the Green River only linger a few hours, it could take weeks for life to get back to normal.
With South King County preparing for the potential flooding of the Green River these next few years, residents are left asking what’s at stake.
“It went all the way from some people lost absolutely everything and people who were just inconvenienced,” said fire chief Kelvin Johnson of Chehalis, a city with a lot of experience preparing and recovering from floods, including two major ones since December 2007.
Two years ago Chehalis was up to its gutters in water, families fled for their lives and some people are still recovering from the loss of homes.
They were flooded again in January 2009, but citizens were better prepared and the flooding wasn’t as severe.
After the 2007 flood, it took crews about a week to clear and inspect major roads. In January’s flooding, it took about a day.
“A lot of the issue after it goes away is that there is so much debris left,” he said.
The process is much longer for businesses and homeowners, who must wait for their buildings to be inspected, before starting the cleanup process.
Several homes were condemned after the 2007 flood.
“There was just devastation in a widespread area. Some people are still dealing with it,” Johnson said.
Though devastation wasn’t the case for everyone.
“Businesses popped right back up again,” Johnson said of the 2009 flood. “The community as a whole was able to get back up and drive.”
Though preparing for a flood can be expensive, it’s often worth the cost.
“I couldn’t say enough about the preparation part of it. In particular understanding where you live...and how you may be effected by it,” he said. “Be proactive instead of reactive.”
The 2007 flood prepared Chehalis for this January.
“I think people got better prepared by moving a lot of their belongings,” said Johnson. “They also had secondary plans of where they could stay.”