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Originally published Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Skykomish River flooding Sultan streets

Floodwaters from the Skykomish River have covered four blocks of Main Street near Highway 2 in downtown Sultan.

Times Snohomish County reporter

SULTAN — Floodwaters from the Skykomish River have covered four blocks of Main Street near Highway 2 in downtown Sultan.

Sultan High School students were released from classes at about 9 a.m. to help fill sandbags and stack them in front of businesses along Main Street, which runs parallel to the highway.

"I've changed my clothes five times," said Sultan High student Andrew Gardner.

A family of four living near the river at the east end of town had to be evacuated this morning when floodwaters surrounded their mobile home.

Ken Hopkins, deputy chief of Snohomish County Fire District No. 5 in Sultan, said crews brought in a boat from the Gold Bar Fire Department and floated the family and their two dogs to safety.

"The water came up quickly," Hopkins said. "They waited too long. Most of the time people wait too long."

Another couple, including a man in a wheelchair, had to be rescued when their car was surrounded by water on Ben Howard Road, said Merlin Halverson, District 5 fire chief.

Halverson said the Skykomish River peaked at 19 feet at about 1 p.m., two feet less than had been predicted.

"Looks like we got lucky,"Halverson said.

Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick said volunteers would continue to stockpile sandbags throughout the afternoon, but she said the absence of snow in the mountains lessened the possibility that the flooding would be as extensive as seen in 2006.

Kim Jorgensen, a homeless man who lives on the bank of the Skykomish River, said he and about 10 other people evacuated their campground before dawn this morning. He said the water was thigh deep as he carried his belongings, including a sleeping bag and camping gear, to higher ground.

Jorgensen was the only person at a Red Cross shelter set up in the Volunteers of America Family Support Center in Sultan Wednesday afternoon.

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Hunter MacKay, a Red Cross volunteer, said the Red Cross would provide hot meals and cots to anyone seeking shelter through the night.

But, he said, "Most people would rather go anywhere else."

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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