Storm slams Sumner

After three weeks of snow, ice and freezing temperatures, the region was hit with a torrential rainstorm last week with warmer temperatures that caused flooding and property damage from the Plateau to the valley.

Patricia and Frank Mathis watch the Puyallup River rise Jan. 7 near Rainier Manor in Sumner. More pictures on B6.

Flooding and mud slides cause extensive damage in the valley and throughout the Plateau

After three weeks of snow, ice and freezing temperatures, the region was hit with a torrential rainstorm last week with warmer temperatures that caused flooding and property damage from the Plateau to the valley.

The storm began Jan. 6 and heavy rain continued through Jan. 7 and Thursday morning. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded 1.22 inches of rain Jan. 6 and 2.29 Jan. 7 at Sea-Tac Airport.

Homes and businesses around Sumner were flooded and damaged from mud when both the Puyallup and White rivers breeched the banks and levies. The surrounding cities in the valley including Pacific, Orting and South Prairie were hit hard by the heavy rains and flooding.

“This was regional and it affected a lot of people,” Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow said.

Around Bonney Lake, water ran over roads closing Sumner-Buckley Highway at the 214th Avenue intersection. Sumner-Tapps Highway and South Tapps Highway were also closed in places from water over the roadways.

The Newaukum, Boise and Red creeks around the city of Enumclaw poured over the banks flooding fields, farms and homes.

Gale Creek in Wilkeson spilled across state Route 165 cutting off access to Carbonado. South Prairie Creek blew over its banks and flooded homes, the main street of the town and the fire station.

The state Department of Transportation closed state Route 410 East to eastbound traffic above the Mud Mountain Dam Road after four landslides cut off the highway to Greenwater.

In Sumner, residents living in Rainier Manor along 140th Street Court East, in Riverwalk and Rivergrove west of 147th Avenue East and people living in the north area of the city near 29th Street were told to evacuate by city officials and East Pierce Fire and Rescue personnel as the Puyallup and White rivers rose to flood stage.

SR 410 had more than 2 feet of water over the road between Traffic Avenue and Valley Avenue in Sumner and was closed by noon Jan. 7.

There were also evacuations recommended in Orting, South Prairie and Wilkeson.

East Pierce personnel, along with officials from Sumner and Bonney Lake, met early the morning of Jan. 7 at the Public Safety Building, which was converted into an emergency operation center.

Assistant Fire Chief Dave Wakefield led the group in briefings throughout the day as everyone tried to respond to the raging rivers and flooding.

On the morning of Jan. 7, interim Fire Chief John McDonald said, “We always prepare for the worst and hope for the best. The coordination between the agencies has been exceptional.”

The rain and rising rivers slowed Thursday, but the storm left extensive flooding and property damage in Rainier Manor, the Rivergrove Apartments and Riverwalk.

Enslow said he thought the Sumner and Bonney Lake city workers, police officers and East Pierce personnel “did their jobs very well. They were very professional and skilled. Lives were hurt, but people brought in tractors and shovels and started to help clean up the (flooded) areas. There is a lot for people to be proud of.”

The mayor said another flooding issue came up Thursday when the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers released water from Mud Mountain Dam, causing the water to rise in the White River.

“I understand they had to release some water,” Enslow said. “But it seemed like they opened the valve too wide.”

Enslow said the White River rose again Thursday afternoon and caused flooding and damage to the city’s Sumner Meadows golf course, club house and in the industrial district north of Sumner. Roads were closed leading to Lakeland Hills.

Residents around the city of Pacific also suffered damage from White River after water was released from the dam, according to Enslow.

The mayor said he and other city officials affected by the release of water from the dam will meet with members of the corps to discuss the problems and find solutions.

“I’m hoping they will make these people (affected by the release) whole,” Enslow said.

Reach Dennis Box at dbox@courierherald.com or 360-802-8209.


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