OLYMPIA Yakima, Benton and Klickitat counties will benefit from a state emergency proclamation issued yesterday.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed the declaration to free up state resources in the event of flooding or other weather-related damage in anticipation of extremely wet weather in Eastern Washington.
“The continual rain showers and early snow melt create the potential for rising waters, destructive landslides and damage to our infrastructure,” Inslee said. “This is a proactive move to ensure state agencies are able to do everything reasonably possible to help communities recover.”
It applies to 20 counties in Eastern Washington.
Others include Adams, Asotin, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Whitman and Walla Walla counties.
Flood warnings were issued in more than a dozen locations over the weekend.
State emergency management officials have been responding to requests for assistance including dispatching Washington Conservation Corps crew members to Sprague for help filling sandbags on Saturday and locating pumps to manage flood waters. 40 Washington National Guardsmen are scheduled to arrive today to assist with sand bagging efforts.
And the city of Yakima declared an emergency last week after flooding of area lakes and rivers covered streets and threatened homes.
Flooding last week was less severe in the Lower Yakima Valley, though areas of Granger and Toppenish experienced high water.
In Benton County, the Yakima River reached flood stage last week near Kiona.
It was Inslee’s second emergency proclamation for Eastern Washington in less than a week.
Last week, he announced counties in the Lower Yakima Valley could be in line for assistance after an emergency declaration.
Benton and Klickitat were two of 28 counties covered in Inslee’s declaration to help counties recover from severe winter weather from Jan. 30 through Feb. 22.
“The impacts have been significant, from snow removal and damage to public facilities to transportation interruptions and the opening of shelters to assist those whose power was out or their homes damaged,” Inslee said..
The proclamation will help the state Department of Transportation make emergency repairs to roadways and request federal financial assistance.
Damage to roads alone is estimated at more than $10 million.
The proclamation also allows Inslee to potentially request other federal assistance.
That is pending the outcome of ongoing damage assessments in the impacted counties.