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In The Spotlight

Elm Street Underpass SP


Early on the morning of Tuesday, February 12, 2019, the drainage way known as China Creek overflowed it banks flooding Toteff Park and the Exit 30 underpass.  The city received over 3 inches of rain in less than 24 hours, in addition to having the snow in the higher elevations melting as temperatures rose.   The City crew responded around 5 am to barricade the area at the underpass, closing one block of East Frontage and all of West Frontage and worked to contain the flooding in that area.   Areas in the downtown were monitored for potential flooding.  The majority of the downtown avoided high-water damage due to recent system maintenance and improvements.   

 The deluge of water caused the City’s Wastewater Plant to have capacity issues and was in danger of surcharging back into the system.  The City contacted all the downtown business owners to request they turn off the water and plug toilets in the buildings in an effort to prevent or contain any potential for damages.  There was a large landslide on Kalama River Road which affected the Kalama River and in turn caused turbidity at the City’s Water Plant.  The City was forced to shut down the plant and not pump water.   Due to these conditions, Mayor Mike Reuter declared a state of emergency in the City.  The City requested that citizens conserve water and not do laundry or dishes until the issues were resolved.  The City had the help of volunteers in the filling of sandbags at the City shop, so sandbags were available to the public.  The City crew continued to monitor conditions and manage facilities for high water issues.  By late afternoon, the rain had let up and water at the underpass receded.  The Wastewater Plant was recovering capacity and the downtown businesses were notified they could remove the preventative measures at 4pm.  On Wednesday morning the conserve water request was lifted as normal operations were back on line at the Water Treatment Plant.   

 The City staff in all departments worked diligently to advert any major flooding in the downtown area and keep the public informed of what was happening.  A big thank you to Cowlitz District #5 and Department of Emergency Management for help in organizing the efforts to address the emergency situation.   The City is grateful to the volunteers that helped or offered help and all its citizens for their cooperation during this period.



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