By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
Authorities are taking stock of the damage from last week’s flooding, which primarily impacted the east end of the county.
Randle Fire Chief Jeff Jaques hoped to finish up today checking on places.
“There wasn’t a whole lot that we had to evacuate in our area,” Jaques said. “We had three rescues, maybe four, with assistance from the sheriff’s office.”
As of last night, the chief knew of a vacation home affected, a house that got two feet of water inside and a household in Cascade Peaks Campground that was displaced, but he still had several more residences to look at.
The Cowlitz River at Randle didn’t rise quite as high as the record event in November 2006, he said, but Cispus got hit pretty hard this time. It reached just over 24 feet at about 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday.
“Every flood is different,” he said.
With the water over the roadway at U.S. Highway 12 and on state Route 131, responders had to drive all the way east to Packwood, onto Cline Road and take a forest service road, cutting through downed tress, to get to the people who needed help in Cispus, according to Jaques.
The sheriff’s office brought out its 5-ton truck and the only boat rescue in Randle involved bringing someone out from Cline Road by canoe, he said.
Lewis County Emergency Management is urging people impacted from the flooding to phone them and make a report.
“As of Monday, 19 homes were confirmed damaged,” Steve Mansfield, manager of the department, said today. “I know there’s more than that.”
There are two reasons to call in, he said.
First, the department is working to connect people who need help with others who can help them, he said.
“Today, for example, we had a guy evacuated from the Randle area who went home and found lots of sewage in his house,” Mansfield said. “We matched him up with the Red Cross, who are giving him vouchers for a motel for three or four nights.”
The second reason is, Emergency Management needs to tally up a dollar loss that will be forwarded to FEMA, and if the total reaches a certain threshold, then FEMA funding may be available to assist citizens, according to Mansfield.
The need for rescues began about 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, in the High Valley community of Packwood.
A log jam formed in the Cowlitz River, causing the river to reroute and suddenly water began to flow into a residence on Mountain View Drive, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies and firefighters continued responding to calls for help through the night. By 2:15 a.m., the river at Packwood was cresting at almost 11.4 feet. It’s record high is 14.59 feet in November 2006.
Packwood Fire Department Chief Lonnie Goble said most of their issues were in the High Valley.
One or two were washed out, he said. One unoccupied vacation cabin tipped over.
“The last high water this fall was even higher than this was,” he said. “For some reason, some log jams diverted the water.”
Goble estimated 20 to 25 people had to leave their homes but thought by Saturday, everyone was back home.
The area in town right along U.S. Highway 12 didn’t flood, but given the changing river, it’s only a matter of time, he said.
“If the river doesn’t get fixed this year, Packwood will flood,” he said.
He continues to be concerned about the area above Franklin Bridge and is unsatisfied with the methods and proposals for protecting the town, by the numerous government agencies that have involvement in the waterway.
“They used to put DC Cats right down the center of the river to keep it clear, but they don’t want to do that anymore,” he said.
Emergency Management Manager Mansfield hopes to compile damage reports by the end of this week.
Impacted residents are asked to call one of the following phone numbers and leave their name and a good contact telephone number. Someone will return the call to gather specifics of their losses.
Those in Lewis County and all other cities may call 360-740-1152. Damages in the city limits of Centralia should be reported to 360-623- 8283 or 360-330-7659.
Information needed for the call back includes:
• Dollar value of the loss
• Value of the property loss (tax assessment value if property) • Any insurance coverage
• Dollar value loss of inventory/building damage
• Was business closed during event (if so, dollar value of losses)
Emergency Management has already received inquiries about making donations to flood victims.
Mansfield asks that anyone who wants to make a monetary- or goods- and services-type donation to please call 360-740-1152 and leave their phone number along with the donation pledge they would like to make.
They will have someone contact donors as the need is identified, he said.