Carnation family among many slogging through flood's aftermath
Dave Berry was one of many Western Washington residents in areas around Carnation and Duvall who spent Saturday dealing with the effects of floods that swamped and severed major county roads and spread water, mud and debris over a vast plain of East King County.
Seattle Times staff reporter
CARNATION — Carrying bags of belongings from his flood-damaged home Saturday, Dave Berry said that even though his family had been in their rental house by the Tolt River just a couple of months, they were already falling in love with it.
"It's beautiful out here. We see bald eagles, blue heron. And the sound of the river was very soothing. It helped us fall asleep at night."
All that changed early Thursday morning, when a torrent of water poured though a damaged levee near the Berrys' home. Within hours, after the Berry family fled, floodwaters knocked their home off its foundation, leaving it tipped like a shipwreck on a muddy beach, the contents of its lower floor crushed, coated in mud or simply swept away.
"If we'd stayed much longer, we wouldn't have gotten out," said Berry, one of many Western Washington residents who spent Saturday dealing with the flood's effects.
Areas around Carnation and Duvall, isolated for days by floods that swamped and severed major county roads, also saw some of the most severe damage as the Tolt and Snoqualmie Rivers spread water, mud and debris over a vast plain of East King County.
Berry, with his wife, Nancy, and 4-year-old daughter, Kimiko, lived just south of Carnation, where Northeast 32nd Street parallels the Tolt River. At a half-dozen houses on that street Saturday, friends and neighbors helped residents remove truckload after truckload of possessions over driveways and sections of roadway still underwater.
"I lived here just 12 years, but I've worked in the area 34 years and I've never seen anything like this," said Berry's next-door neighbor, Craig LaBelle, whose toolshed was moved more than 100 feet by the flood.
Nearby, county crews used a massive excavator to create a temporary road for trucks bringing loads of rock to begin repairing a 400-foot-long section of levee. Residents say the levee was apparently pierced by a large tree, swept along the swollen river like a battering ram.
It was shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday when a neighbor knocked on Berry's door to tell him the levee had been breached, but it wasn't clear how severe the problem was. "I asked, 'Should we leave?' and he said he didn't know."
Berry called 911 and was connected with an area fire department, and he was told most rivers were already receding. "They made it seem like maybe it wasn't real serious," Berry said.
But three hours later, after LaBelle's house was hit by a fallen tree, it became clear that residents needed to evacuate.
Water sweeping across Berry's driveway by that point was too deep for his sedan to manage. A friend of LaBelle's pulled up a truck to rescue the Berry family. "We handed him our daughter, who was still in her nightclothes, then we waded across waist-deep water to get in."
As the truck headed to the safety of higher ground, it was rocked and shaken by the deepening water. At one point, it hit a submerged boulder and had to maneuver around it.
Berry, who tests software on contracts for Microsoft, was assisted Saturday by his landlords, Ken and Kristen Greenlaw. Ken Greenlaw, who has only owned the house since September, said longtime residents told him a dam constructed upstream on the Tolt River had protected the area from serious flooding for decades.
Berry's car, which had been submerged during the flooding, remains wedged under sections of concrete driveway. Berry said he expects the car is a total loss, but he's hopeful his wife's minivan, partially submerged, may be salvageable.
Precious family photos and other memorabilia were among many items swept away without a trace.
The home's lower floor, which houses a utility room, Berry's office and his daughter's bedroom and playroom, was a tangled, murky mess of toys, tools, a facedown television set and other items half-buried in muck. A stuffed pink dog, its snout brown with mud, peered out from under the corner of the washing machine.
Berry has renters insurance, but he isn't sure it will cover flood damage. "We got out safely. That's what matters most," he said. "But we'll never live by water again."
Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case
NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
(The Associated Press) Fuel rules get support A Consumer Federation of America survey conducted in April found that a large majority of Americans R...
Post a comment