Flood warning issued for Puyallup, Carbon rivers

VIDEO: Storm watch at Mount Rainier National Park

Officials monitor the conditions at Mount Rainier National Park amid heavy rainfall Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015.
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Officials monitor the conditions at Mount Rainier National Park amid heavy rainfall Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015.

By mid-afternoon Saturday, flood defenses in Tacoma and Pierce County were mostly holding up against two days of heavy rain.

That could change if the Puyallup and Carbon rivers swell in East Pierce County.

They’re the two rivers that most worry Pierce County officials. The National Weather Service released a flood warning Saturday for both of them.

Mild flooding on the Puyallup may occur in Orting, according to the weather service.

More remote stretches of the Carbon could overrun their banks, as well, with river flows possibly reaching a foot above flood stage.

“Right now everything is within its banks, and indicators are that most of the system will remain that way.”

Nicole Johnson, duty officer with Pierce County Emergency Management, reported Saturday evening that both the Puyallup River at Orting and the Carbon River at Fairfax had crested by late afternoon.

Still, she said, the National Weather Service had raised the warning level from minor to moderate.

“We are monitoring the situation,” she said.

Storms that began Friday have dumped more than four inches of rain at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park, filling rivers that flow out of the park and sending debris downstream.

Anthony Fantello, maintenance and operations manager with Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, anticipated that the Puyallup would peak after 5 p.m.

Four teams of engineers were in the field closely watching the two rivers. Fantello said recent flood-prevention projects appeared to be doing well, though he was concerned that heavy debris could damage them.

“The (flood prevention) system is very sound,” he said.

Pierce County reported at 1:30 p.m. that a portion of Military Road on South Hill was closed due to a mudslide. There was no estimate for when it may reopen.

Gig Harbor City Administrator Ron Williams reported late Saturday afternoon that Borgen Boulevard was closed between the Olympus roundabout and Peacock Hill Avenue Northwest because of a downed tree.

Williams said the tree fell east of where a falling tree killed Jamie Fay, 36, on Aug. 29.

“I have talked to people at Heron’s Key and they are accelerating cutting down the trees as much as possible,” Williams said.

It was not known if the tree that fell Saturday was one of the “hazard trees” slated to be cut down because of the danger they pose. Preparations had been made last week to begin culling the hazard trees, Williams said.

Borgen was expected to remain closed through early Sunday.

In Tacoma, crews spent Saturday morning shoring up the streets around Stadium Bowl to keep the football field safe from new flooding. It was damaged earlier in October and remains closed for several months.

“That’s the main focus” for Tacoma Public Schools, said school district spokeswoman Elle Warmuth. “It looks OK.”

Staff writers Brynn Grimley and C.R. Roberts contributed to this report.