‘Take this seriously’: Carnation declares state of emergency over latest Tolt Dam false alarm

CARNATION, Wash. — The City of Carnation City Council voted unanimously to declare a state of emergency Wednesday evening after the most recent Tolt River Dam false evacuation alarm.

The city council says that it is concerned for the safety of its residents as no all-clear signal was given after the incident. People living in the city have already asked that Seattle Public Utilities be held accountable after the first false alarm. Deputy Mayor Tim Harris blames the false alarms on the dam’s old and failing early alert system.

“This is a serious situation and it has been happening way too often. The amount of time that it has taken to get the new emergency siren system online has allowed to old system to degrade to the point where now the old system is failing and is causing these types of issues that we are dealing with false alarms in the city of Carnation,” said Harris.

The city council’s biggest fear is that Carnation residents will no longer take the warning system seriously if the false alarms continue.

Carnation Mayor Jim Raibail believes this proclamation will put some political pressure on the city of Seattle. From Ribail’s perspective, the utility provider should have fixed the problem after the first false alarm back in 2020.

For this latest false alarm, Raibail says it brought back unpleasant memories of the last time this happened.

“It was a very traumatic event for everybody in the City of Carnation,” he said.

“We really need SPU to take this seriously,” Raibal added. “I truly believe that if this happened in the city of Seattle, this would not take three years to get fixed.”

Seattle Public Utilities apologized for the incident last week. The agency declined an on-camera interview but emailed this statement:

“Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is currently in active discussions with Carnation officials and our emergency partners on how best to meet community expectations,” said SPU. “Based on feedback from residents on the new Warning System, we are making minor adjustments and anticipate decommissioning the old system and fully transitioning to the new system, which will provide better reliability and resiliency, by October.”

KIRO 7 has also learned that the Seattle mayor’s office plans to sit down with three Carnation city council members as well as Carnation’s own mayor to sort this out.

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