Residents return to ruined homes as Nisqually River recedes

VIDEO: Dozens of homes ruined by floods in Nisqually Valley

Step inside Corey Mathis’ home and you immediately get a glimpse of the damage floodwaters can cause.

“This used to be my entryway, but it’s all full of mud and maybe poop and gosh knows what else,” said Mathis.

His floors are filthy, wood furniture is water-stained and kitchen cabinets need to be ripped out.

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“Most everything has got dirt and nasty muck inside. I mean, you can see these cabinets are toast, they’re full of mud and nastiness and gosh knows what,” he said.

Mathis can see the Nisqually River out his back window.

When Tacoma Power increased water flow from the La Grande Dam Thursday, floodwaters began pouring into his home.

“You can see where the water line is, it came up to the top of my boot, if not taller than my boot,” said Mathis.

Mathis spent the day piling up trashed furniture. His family lost just about everything.

“Yesterday I found my newspaper from the day I was born. I thought it was up high. My kids’ are, but mine isn’t, so I lost that, which is pretty important to me because it’s almost 42 years old,” he said.

Mathis isn’t alone.

Floodwaters filled front yards, submerged streets and ruined people’s homes.

At Riverside Manor Apartments, parts of the parking lot are still underwater. Helpful residents are running a pump to try to send the standing water back into the Nisqually River.

“Trying to get it out before it starts raining because then it will flood back down again,” said resident Jake Wood.

On 6th Avenue, Brian Willard’s dream home is now nothing but subfloor and soaked drywall.

“Emotionally it’s devastating to know your home, your safety, your security is now dangerous and inhabitable,” he said.

Drone footage from the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office shows Willard’s neighborhood completely underwater.

Inside his home, the water was 8 to 10 inches deep.

“It’s like living in a nightmare you just want to wake up from,” he said.

Despite the destruction, homeowners said the flood has brought the community closer together.

“We are immensely grateful for the amount of people who have come out to pour their love on us. We’re blown away. There’s no possible way physically that I could even do some of the work,” said Willard. “We’re so happy to see so many helping hands jumping in, dropping everything in their lives, even people whose houses were flooded still came out to help us.”