Fire Chief advises caution in the event of floods
August 27, 2008 · Updated 5:31 PM
ARLINGTON The rising waters on the Stillaguamish River Jan. 2 went just high enough to cause some concern among the city of Arlingtons citizens, but not much else. Still, Arlington Fire Chief James Rankin advised area residents to remain aware of the continued possibility of flooding through the rest of the season.
At the Jan. 2 Arlington City Council meeting, Rankin reported that the Stillaguamish River had risen to 15 feet, with 14 feet technically qualifying as flood level, and assured attendees that the Arlington Fire and Police Departments would continue to observe the waters at regular intervals through the night, until 5 a.m., Jan. 3.
Although the river rose just high enough to reach the level of Haller Park, Rankin emphasized that there was no threat, no damage, no evacuations and no sandbags, due in part to the fact that the rising river received less rain than anticipated.
This river has a tendency to rise fast, but also to recede fast, Rankin said. Were still keeping an eye on it, though. With the warming trends of El Nino, melting snow can magnify any flood from rain, so were staying tuned to the weather forecasts and watching out for several other factors.
Rankin encouraged local property owners to pay attention to such news and respond accordingly, urging them, Dont hesitate to relocate yourself in an emergency. When you notice warning indicators, pack up and get out, because if you dont, then you could get stranded, and well have to reallocate our resources to get you out.
At the same time, Rankin implored motorists to exercise caution, because on the roads, its not just the depth of the water, its also the speed that its moving. He explained that even a water depth of three to four inches on a road can be risky, since once the water is deep enough to touch the bottom edges of a car or truck, even if it doesnt float, if theres enough pressure from the water, the bottom of a vehicle is a solid enough surface that it can be lifted off the of pavement.
Rankin pointed out that the apparent speed of floodwaters can be deceptive, and instructed drivers to check how fast debris moves in the floodwaters, as well as how large such debris is, since logs and rocks can knock you off the road. Proceeding on foot can be equally dangerous, since a single misstep in floodwaters can cause a pedestrian to trip and find themself unable to regain their footing, before being swept away.