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Deluge forces emergency declaration

This must mean the drought is officially over.

After a bit of a dry spell in late December, the traditional winter rains blew in last weekend. Combined with a high tide and driving winds, the rain had county crews, volunteers and business owners coming together to combat flooding in Silverdale.

County Commissioner Tim Botkin issued a county-wide declaration of emergency at 8:45 a.m. Monday, Jan. 7. The order allows the county to use its resources to protect private property which could be damaged by flood waters.

“We had some calls that water was coming onto Silverdale Way,” Botkin said Monday afternoon. “And we were starting to see a trickle of concerns from people throughout the county who were seeing signs of flooding on their properties.”

Botkin said the emergency declaration would remain in place until the rain lets up.

“We’ll take it off once we know things are backing off a bit,” the commissioner said as he toured Silverdale. “Everything’s been so far, so good until now, but it’s still raining.”

Traffic on Silverdale Way between Randall Way and Myhre Road was restricted to one lane in each direction Monday, Jan. 7. Seabeck Holly Road was closed when Seabeck Creek overflowed its banks, and a mudslide shut down Illahee Road south of the Brownsville Bridge. Slide warning signs were posted on Newberry Hill and Tracyton Beach roads.

Plugged drain grates were blamed for minor flooding in Old Town Silverdale, and drivers on State Route 303 reported standing water near Wal-Mart and the intersection with Central Valley Road. There also were reports of numerous homes being flooded and driveways washing out.

“I was out putting up signs Monday morning on Tracyton Boulevard where water was coming over the roadway,” said county stormwater manager Dave Dickson. “But there’s quite a bit of water lying around everywhere.”

According to Laura Jull, a spokesperson for the county Department of Emergency Management, the county filled 3,000 of its stockpile of 10,000 sandbags on Friday, Jan. 4, as a precaution.

“Firefighters and members of the Explorer Search and Rescue unit were sandbagging in Silverdale at the intersection of Silverdale Way and Myhre and we were in contact with the county jail to get prisoners to help,” Jull said Monday morning.

While more than four inches of rain fell between Sunday morning and Monday afternoon, officials also were watching the tide roll into Dyes Inlet late Monday morning.

The combination of monsoon and high tides mean that water flooding into Clear Creek, Silverdale’s primary drainage, cannot reach Dyes Inlet and instead backs up into creekside businesses. Similar conditions forced another county-wide emergency declaration on Feb. 24, 1999, when water covered roadways and poured into the All Star Lanes bowling alley and other nearby businesses.

Dickson said the county spends $4.3 million annually to control stormwater flow.

“We work hard to keep the drains clean,” Dickson said. “But they still get clogged up.”

He asked those who see a clogged drain to try to poke a hole through it to “help us out.

“We’ve got everybody out there,” Dickson said. “Hopefully we can keep the water in the pipes.”

Forecasters expected the weather to improve today, Jan. 9, but occasional showers are likely to last for the next week.

“It’s supposed to taper off,” said Doug Bear, spokesman for the county Department of Public Works. “But when we get the volume of rain that we have, it just saturates the ground. It doesn’t matter how dry it has been.”

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