Floods force 40,000 out of homes

By Elizabeth Ballinger.
Canoeing around their neighborhood streets, BC employee Susan Kingsbury and her husband spent last Wednesday afternoon trapped by an overflowing river surveying the damage of the flood that claimed much of their home in downtown Snoqualmie. Kingsbury left her home on dry land at 6:30 a.m. on January 7, and headed to work in the college’s Institutional Advancement department. By the time she returned at noon, she had to stop and canoe to reach her house. She spent the next four hours watching the larger three-to-five-foot waves inch up to her front door, and rushed to put her belongings up in the higher spaces of her home. “You have to keep your wits about you,” said Kingsbury. ” It gives you an adrenaline rush. You have to work as fast as you can, because you see the water just get closer and closer.” Over 1,500 residents of Snoqualmie were told by local officials to evacuate, and about three dozen of the city’s people were rescued by boat. Across King, Whatcom, Thurston, Lewis and Gray Harbors, Snohomish counties, and the surrounding area, over 40,00 people were evacuated due to the week’s sudden flooding, which reached a record of up to 10 feet above flood stage in some areas. To date, reports of injury have been few, although one death was reported in King County a couple of days after the flooding. Governor Chris Gregoire released a very early estimate of damages following a tour of flooded regions, approximating it at $125 million. At BC, several teachers, administrators and students were trapped by the flooding -some unable to leave their homes for several days. Cheryl Vermiliyea, in the Center for Career Development, said one of her students informed her through email the day the flooding began that he would be unable to get to school, as he was trapped in by the water. Vermiliyea hasn’t been able to contact him since last Wednesday. “You don’t want to assume something bad,” said Vermiliyea. “But this just breaks down our whole communication system.” The Snoqualmie River in Carnation, WA, the source of the overflow to King’s neighborhood, reached a new flood height record at 61.5 inches. Interstate 90 was closed at the Snoqualmie pass through to the weekend. Tacoma declared a civil emergency, closing off a 20-mile stretch of I-5 from Centralia into Thurston County. Laura McCray, a BC employee, lives in the North Bend mountains near Mt. Si. She and her family face thousands of dollars in flood damage, much of it from an overflowing pond of a neighbor whose home sits north of hers. “I am lucky compared to some,” said McCray, whose nearby neighbors had to evacuate their homes. “Many of these people were just right in the path of danger.” Last week, the federal govenrment declared that Washington is in a state of emergency flooding. Many who lack flood insurance are asking the feds to help them rebuild their lives. U.S Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said they will give Washington $2 million to begin repair on roads and government buildings. “One day my husband and I will look back on this,” said Kingsbury, ” and we’ll say,