No disaster assistance coming for Glendale

With cleanup nearly finished in soggy Glendale, residents and the county appear to be on their own when it comes to covering the estimated $5 million in flood losses.

Meanwhile, the county plans to meet with residents of the tiny community south of Clinton to go over what happened on April 4 and what can be done to try to prevent flooding in the future.

Since neither federal nor state disasters were declared as a result of the flooding, no disaster funds are available to either the county or the community, said Randy Brackett, assistant engineer with the Island County Department of Public Works.

The destruction wasn’t considered widespread or severe enough to qualify for disaster relief, Brackett said.

Meanwhile, there’s no chance for federal stimulus infrastructure money, because the deadline for applying for those funds was in January, he said.

The state has money in its salmon recovery program, but the competition is strong and the criteria is marginal in the case of Glendale, Brackett said.

“It’s not set up to meet the needs we have, and it would require work which we’ve already done,” he said.

Brackett said the county is looking into no-interest loans from various sources, and is pushing for relief through the office of state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen.

Meanwhile, the first in a series of public forums will be next week in Clinton to go over what happened, and what happens next, Brackett said.

“There are no easy solutions,” he said. “The whole community needs to have a discussion about that.”

The first meeting will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 9 at Clinton Community Hall.

Brackett said officials will use photos and video to review the county’s initial response, and discuss similar events that have occurred elsewhere, especially those involving beaver dams.

A subsequent meeting, yet to be scheduled, will focus on the biological aspects of the creek, the ecosystem it supports and the rebuilding of the salmon recovery system.“It’s a beginning of a discussion,” he said of the series. “I’m sure we’ll get the save-the-beaver folks and the eliminate-the-beaver folks.”

Brackett said officials also will review options for repairing the washed-out section of Glendale Road near its intersection with Holst Road.

So far, those options include creating turnarounds on either side of the washout, installing a large-diameter oblong arch culvert under a repaired roadway or building a bridge across the divide.

A culvert and repaired roadway would probably cost more than $1.3 million, and a bridge at least $3 million, Brackett said. He said either project would require at least two to three years to complete.

A collapsed beaver dam upstream was blamed for the unexpected swelling of Glendale Creek on April 3.

The next morning, the rising water wiped out a 20-foot-deep section of Glendale Road about 100 feet wide, and the culvert under it, and sent a wall of water, mud and debris rushing a mile down the canyon into the Glendale beach community.

Eight homes, the Glendale Hotel and the old Ford Garage were damaged. Residents had been evacuated hours earlier, and there were no reported injuries.

Private property structural damage was estimated at more than $2.1 million, the bulk of it for the heavily damaged Glendale Hotel. There was an additional $70,000 in estimated personal property loss.

Brackett said the county incurred the loss of $2 million worth of roadway, and spent another $60,000 assisting Glendale residents with the cleanup.

The county provided a fresh-water tank, portable toilets and trash bins, hauled away mountains of mud and debris and restored the lower part of Glendale Road to two-lane traffic.

Brackett said the county-declared emergency period following the flood expired this week, and that officials are looking for a consultant “to carry the work forward.”

“The county was a victim, too, on the same scale as individual occupants,” Brackett said. “We’ve had to dip into other funds to do response, and now we’re looking at longer-term recovery.”

He said the goal of the county is to collect and circulate as much information as possible to Glendale residents and to others on South Whidbey.

“We need to have a community conversation,” he said. “We don’t expect consensus, but the more information that’s available, the more people will understand the actions we do take.”

“We certainly understand the stress that this event placed on residents living alongside the stream,” Brackett continued, “and we’re going to work to do what we can.”

“But in the end, there’s always going to be the stream,” he added. “You can’t completely eliminate the risk of flooding in the future.”

For information about the public forums, call 321-5111, ext. 7331.

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