Arlington, surrounding area inundated by recent flooding
January 13, 2009 · Updated 1:16 PM
ARLINGTON — Flood waters were seven inches higher than ever before at O’Brien’s Turkey House Restaurant Thursday morning, Jan. 8, according to Kerry O’Brien, owner of the restaurant.
“We put everything up, but it wasn’t up enough,” O’Brien said. “This was way worse than ever before.”
O’Brien said his relatives, employees and customers spent the weekend helping clean up and a carpet cleaner was scheduled for Monday. He was waiting for the gas company to reconnect the gas tank so they could get the heat going.
“The gas company came to reconnect the line on Friday, but they didn’t turn on the gas,” O’Brien said, adding they were anxious to get the heat on to dry out the restaurant.
“We’re OK. We sent a lot of our stored food back to suppliers. It was only the prepared food that was destroyed,” he said. “We hope to reopen Wednesday.”
The river reached flood stage 4 at 19 feet by noon Wednesday, Jan. 7, and climbed even higher with continuing rain, cresting before noon Thursday.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary confirmed O’Brien’s take on the situation.
“It’s never been this bad at Island Crossing,” Leary said Thursday morning. “It’s a huge flood, an historic flood. I’ve never seen this before.”
His biggest concern at that moment was the siteseers, and he noted that the Department of Ecology would be inspecting the gas stations to determine if any fuel had leaked.
“People need to listen to news reports and make a plan to keep themselves safe,” Leary said.
A representative of American Red Cross, Bill Westlake, was out and about to see if anyone needed to be rescued.
“There appears to be lots of water over the roadways, but not much into houses,” Westlake said.
A resident of Schloman Road, north of Arlington, the owner of Ninety Farm, Linda Neunzig had water inside her house for the first time ever. “I think it seeped up through the floor,” she said the rugs were wet, but nothing else was damaged. “We put everything up and it’s all OK.” She evacuated more than 200 head of cattle, including 200 sheep, 11 cows, two llamas, three horses and a donkey.
“We had three babies when it all started and now we have 12,” she said. The animals were moved to a friend’s house in Granite Falls.
“It took a lot of trips,” she said. They used three trailers running back and forth all day Wednesday to get the animals out of there. Then she and her two kids went home to her parents in Snohomish.
“It’s an icky, ucky mess,” Neunzig said.
She believes that a broken dike below her house helped her own situation. Her neighbors, at the base of Suicide Hill at SR 9 and Harvey Creek suffered more than usual, she said.
Over the weekend, 30 friends helped her shovel the muck out of the barns then pressure washed the surfaces and cleaned up the debris in the pastures and along the fence line.
“I am glad it didn’t hit 23 feet,” she said.
The emergency supervisor for Washington State Department of Transportion, Rod Hayes told The Arlington Times Thursday morning that DOT was supervising multiple closures: SR 530 from I-5 to 211th, SR 530 at Twin Rivers and SR 9 at Harvey Creek, where a foot and a half of water was flowing over the new road, he said. He also mentioned two closures near Darrington, at mileposts 55 and 61, with a slide at one location.
“Our main priorities were to keep lane closures manned and keep people out of danger,” Hayes said.
From the city of Arlington’s perspective, there was no significant damage to any infrastructure, according to Fire Chief Jim Rankin.
“We operated a limited Emergency Operations Center, providing resources for the individuals who needed assistance. This event has far exceeded events of the past, breaking records in levels and volume of water,” Rankin said.
“We are having flooding where it has never happened before,” he said, acknowledging that Mother Nature is very unpredictable.
One bit of damage inside the city limits led to the closure of Burn Road, however. The city’s emergency management coordinator Chris Badger announced the closure Wednesday afternoon due to a serious undercut.
Back at Island Crossing, the owner of the Turkey House said they got a lot of help from local firefighters.
“I was impressed,” O’Brien said that he saw Arlington’s fire department and police out there during the flood.
“Both Bryant and Silvana fire districts helped by hosing down the parking lots.”
He said they had tried to get the county to help in previous floods, but to no avail.
“It really helps to get us back up and running.”
The husband of a 20-year veteran employee at the Turkey House, Neil Knutson encouraged the community to plan on lunch at O’Brien’s.
“The Turkey House got clobbered,” he said. “They could use the business.”