Floodwaters receding in Nisqually Valley; cleanup is next

Floodwaters began to recede in western Washington as the rain tapered off Saturday and into Sunday, February9.

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. — Floodwaters have been receding all day Saturday across the Nisqually Valley. Now comes the cleanup.

Roads like Old Pacific Highway that were closed at the height of the storm are now back open.

Thurston County officials plan to fan out across the hardest-hit areas, handing out safety information for residents returning to their flooded homes.

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Stacy Perkins says what has happened here at the Riverside Manor apartments reminded her of the flood they endured here 15 years ago.

“I was actually out there sandbagging for three days,” she said. “And they evacuated us. But we got to come back the next day. It didn’t get that bad.”

As bad as the flooding was this time, Building C, where she and her neighbor Matthew Ashby live, was largely spared. Ashby talked about his ordeal as he was tuning up a neighbor’s vehicle. He said he was able to get home every night.

“I have, only because I have a small rowboat,” he said. “So the tenants in the B building, the middle building over there, they didn’t fare so well. It’s a total loss on the ground floor.”

The parking lot is still flooded, so residents borrowed a pump from Ostrom Mushroom farm to pump the rest back into the Nisqually River, just a few feet away.

Resident Randy McCorry is overseeing the operation. He placed the pump in a skiff and wedged it up against the levy.

“Pumping the water right underneath it,” he said. “We don’t want any garbage in the river, trash in the river, so we’re doing our best to just pump water and get it out of here.”

Thurston County officials are advising flooded residents to begin removing whatever is damaged as soon as they get back home.

“Because what you have is about 24 to 48 hours before we’re concerned about mold and other things growing inside the house,” said Kurt Hardin, the Thurston County Emergency Services director.

But he is asking residents not to return to their flooded homes just yet.

He wants them to stay away until at least Sunday, when the water should have receded even more.

That’s when the county plans to hand out flood safety tips, so that people here do the cleanup correctly.

On Sunday, the Thurston County Health Department released an advisory stating that residents are urged to boil water before use until further notice due to the recent flooding.