After flooding, stormy weekend ends with wind

Staff writerSeptember 29, 2013 

City crews spent Sunday drying out Tacoma from heavy weekend rain that flooded the region, and staffers were preparing for another windy deluge Mother Nature was threatening to bring later that night.

“This is only the first,” said Mike Slevin, head of Tacoma’s Environmental Services Department. “This winter doesn’t look like it’s shaping up to be a good one. We’re not even into fall yet.”

Meteorologists said wind through the night could be the strongest in September on record at 20-35 mph, with gusts up to 55 mph. 

They also said early Sunday that more flooding was possible on the Puyallup River near Orting, but odds of a flood dropped Sunday evening.

The river reached just above the flood level Saturday about midnight, and receded below that mark early Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Before storm No. 2 was supposed to hit, it looked as if the city had recovered from the first, which shattered a 1948 rainfall record of 0.83 inches by dropping 1.71 inches at the Sea-Tac Airport station Saturday.

“We’re actually all caught up right now,” Slevin said Sunday evening about the 117 storm-related calls the city received after the Saturday downpour flooded streets and buildings. “I’m looking at the sun through the clouds now, so I really think we got lucky today.”

Slevin said crews pumped water out of flooded areas where the stormwater system had been overwhelmed.

Both Stadium Way and Marine View Drive were closed due to the rain Saturday, but reopened the next morning.

A pump station that usually shepherds water from South Tacoma to Puget Sound is under construction for upgrades, and work is supposed to be done Oct. 8. Crews used manual pumps to compensate for that after the deluge, Slevin said.

“This is the one that has to drain all of South Tacoma,” he said. “Of course this storm came before Oct. 8.”

With that and other flooding taken care of, crews did pre-emptive checks and were looking into why certain drainage areas failed — routine chores after storms, Slevin said.

He added that it helps when people keep the storm drains on their streets clear of leaves and other debris.

Tacoma Public Utilities spokeswoman Chris Gleason said Sunday that about 8,000 customers in its Tacoma and greater Pierce County service area lost power Saturday and that no major outages had been reported Sunday.

“But the night is young,” she said Sunday evening.

Puget Sound Energy said it did not have an estimate Sunday for how many people had lost power in its service area over the weekend.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268

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