The city of Pacific, with the help of several agencies, is taking emergency measures to prepare for increased risks ahead of the annual flood season.
The King County Flood District, in cooperation with Pacific and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will spend the next week or two placing emergency barriers along three sections of the White River inside the city. Al Sanders, a flood district spokesman, said vehicles traveling in the area could be delayed.
The temporary barriers will be near Third Place Southeast, Pacific Park and the eastern edge of White River Estates. Jeanne Stypula, a supervising engineer with King County Water and Land Resources Division, said they can be used for up to five years.
Officials are taking the urgent action after recent field observations pointed to a higher risk of flooding because of gravel and sediment buildup in the river.
The White River is known for high volumes of sediment from Mount Rainier. Pacific, which straddles the King and Pierce county lines, is vulnerable to rapidly changing conditions due to a constricted channel and ongoing accumulation of gravel.
Stypula said officials are taking advantage of the nice weather to finish the project.
“We have a window of opportunity before we get a big flood event,” she said. “We don’t know if we will get a flood in November or next February, but we needed to get these (barriers) in place to get ready.”
Serious flooding is a familiar problem in Pacific. In January 2009, a major storm led the Corps of Engineers to release water from the Mud Mountain Dam east of Enumclaw. The surge flowed into streets and homes in Pacific, causing extensive damage.
The Corps is providing up to 3,000 lineal feet of emergency barriers for the temporary flood-risk reduction, and the flood district authorized up to $425,000 to install the structures and fill them with sand, according to a King County Flood Control District news release.
Permanent flood-risk reduction is planned for the area, including two levee setback projects that will reconnect more than 120 acres of floodplain to the White River channel, according to the release; Sanders said that project is roughly three to four years from completion.
Pacific Mayor Leanne Guier could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but said in the release that preparation right now is important for residents.
“It is important our citizens know that these protection measures will help, but do not eliminate the very real threat of flooding,” she said.
IF YOU GO
What: Public outreach meeting on installation of emergency flood barriers
When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Pacific Gymnasium, 205 Milwaukee Blvd. S., Pacific.
Kari Plog: 253-597-8682 firstname.lastname@example.org @KariPlog