Board of Columbia County Commissioners discuss flood aftermath
February 27, 2020
DAYTON—During their regular meeting on Tuesday of last week, the Board of Columbia County Commissioners discussed the aftermath of the Feb. 6 flood with County Emergency Management Director Ashley Strickland, and County Public Works Director Charles Eaton.
“For as much water as we had, we got lucky. Other than our roads, we really don’t have a ton of damage. We had a lot of houses that had water in them, but not a lot of houses that are total losses. Some need drywall four feet up the wall, and that is relatively minor,” Ashley Strickland said. “The dikes and levees in Dayton did their job. The new bridges that got put in after ’96 did their job. And for the most part things worked well in Waitsburg.”
Strickland said around 27 individual assessments have been filed with the county. It will take the state two weeks to get all the information from counties affected by the flood. The state will submit their numbers to FEMA and FEMA has thirty days from that date to make a determination if there has been a disaster requiring federal help.
“If so, they will come in and start doing inspections and working with insurance companies,” he said.
He said FEMA really only helps with uninsured loss. If the loss is insured, any help FEMA provides will be offset by the insurance company.
“They do not make you whole,” Strickland said.
“It’s like the national flood insurance program,” he said. “If your house isn’t floating down the river, they pretty much deny claims.”
Strickland said the county has sustained around $200,000.00 in uninsured loss to property.
Additionally, Washington State will now be competing with several southern states for federal dollars, after massive flooding caused damage in those states, as well.
County Engineer Charles Eaton said county roads have sustained around eight million dollars in damage.
There is a state emergency loan program the county can petition for, which could pay for gaps in what FEMA would cover, he said.
Several roads are closed, and Eaton said he recommends keeping them closed, until FEMA can look at the damage.
“There is a danger if we go in there, and work on these any further, we will not be reimbursed,” he said.
The Public Works Department has just completed assessments on bridges. Streams and levees are next, he said.
Eaton said the crews are still actively at work shoring up Wolf Fork, South Patit Road, and the Starbuck levee, and the stream in the Robinson Fork has moved.
“We have a lot of roads we haven’t been able to get to that are in the upper reaches,” said Eaton.
They will need to be inspected if FEMA makes an appearance in the county.
Some of the roads that are closed for the winter probably have damaged roads underneath the snow.
Eaton said he is pursuing the use of drones to fly over stream beds. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is recommending flying over drainage basins to check for changes in the streams, and to see where debris needs to be removed.
County road crews had Monday, President’s Day, off to get some rest, and they should be back to working regular hours next week.
The following roads are closed until further notice:
-Harting Grade Road at the bridge
-King Grade Road
-Petty John Road at the bridge
-Robinson Fork Road
-South Patit Road at MP 4.5
-Tucannon Road at the Fish Hatchery
-Roads open to local traffic, only are:
-South Touchet Road beyond the end of the pavement
-Wolf Fork Road
-South Patit Road beyond Eaton Bridge
-Tucannon Road, from Marengo to Hartsock (one lane)
Roads that are open with possible restrictions are; Crall Hollow Road, North Patit Road, Tucannon Road, North Touchet Road.
The Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution to waive building permit fees associated with flood rehabilitation, until April 1.
They also adopted a resolution declaring their intent to vacate a portion of the Tucannon Road right of way. They established a minimum value of $1 as the appropriate compensation for the 9.3 acres in the right of way. They also declared this portion of the Tucannon Road Right of way to be surplus property with a minimum sale price of $100.
The BOCC established an interlocal agreement between the Town of Starbuck and the Columbia County Public Works Department for sharing contract services, and for providing assistance relating to the Starbuck levee, which was damaged due to the flood.