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Originally published January 7, 2009 at 7:48 PM | Page modified January 7, 2009 at 10:25 PM

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Arlington residents warned of Stillaguamish flooding

As forecasters warned of potential record flood levels, Arlington residents — flood veterans — calmly prepared Wednesday night for the Stillaguamish River's chilly onslaught.

Seattle Times staff reporter

ARLINGTON — As forecasters warned of potential record flood levels, Arlington residents — flood veterans — calmly prepared Wednesday night for the Stillaguamish River's chilly onslaught.

Residents living near the riverbank evacuated animals to higher ground, while businesses prone to flooding sandbagged doors and hoped for the best. Downtown Arlington should not see any major flooding.

At O'Brien Turkey House near Interstate 5, owner Kerry O'Brien pulled green cushions from booths and propped them on tables along with chairs and a cabinet. A team helped sandbag the doors.

Photos from previous floods in 1990, 2003 and 2006 hang on the wall.

"I wish I didn't know what I was doing," O'Brien said. "But I know: Just get everything up as high as we hope it (the water) will go."

Early that afternoon, a steady stream of Arlington residents came to the riverbank at Haller Park. The gray, cold river rushed by, carrying debris. A mist had settled on the surface.

Lifelong Arlington resident David Johnson, 54, came down to the park to watch the swollen river. City officials already had closed the park's parking lot.

The river floods every four or five years, he said. "It's happened my whole life."

Beekeeper Craig Rolston, who lives adjacent to the river, decided to stack his 300 or so beehives on pallets to get them above the water.

City officials say they expected the river to crest around 4 a.m. today, just about the same time as high tide, which may cause flooding on Highway 530.

Rolston, who's lived in Arlington about nine years, said: "This is worse than I've seen, considering it's not going to start dropping till 4 a.m."

Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2272 or ntsong@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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