Rainy forecast, warmer weather spark flooding fears



ARLINGTON, Wash. - As crews are again out trying to recover the bodies of victims of the Oso mudslide, survivors are dealing with renewed flooding fears.

On Wednesday, the Stillaguamish River in Arlington is flowing freely, and crews want to keep it calm.

Their biggest fears are that the waters could turn to rapids and more homes could be the victim of heavy debris.

Tree cutters are working fast to clear timber and have been blessed with several days of sun.

But rain is in the forecast, sparking new flooding fears downstream.

“We actually have crews behind us and we're going through a de-watering. You can imagine all the water, the floor and how wet it's been,” said John Bentley with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The National Weather Service said Oso lake and dam water levels will drop and then rise a foot between Friday and Sunday.

But there's also another issue -- warmer temperatures.

Currently, crews are in the process of de-watering the entire valley ahead of a snowpack melt, which they expect will cause a deluge again.

The river has already cut its own small path to drain and a siren is in place in case of heavy rains.

It will be able to warn all the family, friends, crew and they have established evacuation points and guidelines in case to get out,” said Bentley.

But small channels can only do so much.

The Army Corps of Engineers is studying the Stillaguamish River.

Within a couple weeks they hope to have a better plan to drain snowmelt before it backs up, and floods the lower valleys.

The Army Corps of Engineers said the most likely solution would be to build a quarry made of gravel to redirect the river.  It could be completed by the end of next week.

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