Our Past | 1989: Douglas County overwhelmed by floodwaters

Selected by Karen Larsen

The following excerpts from an article published in the March 16, 1989 Empire Press tell of serious flooding that struck the county that spring.


Floodwaters cause extensive damage, emergency declared

A state of emergency exists in Douglas County because of flooding throughout the entire county.

Cooperation from the public is requested so that an assessment of damage caused by the floodwaters can be made. Douglas County Auditor Laurie Evenhus said people living in the East Wenatchee and Palisades areas are asked to call 884-1551 and ask for the flood coordinator. People living in upper Douglas County are asked to call 745-8527, extension 400.

By gathering information on damage done by runoff water in the county, county commissioners are hopeful that federal emergency assistance can be obtained.

Commissioner Jay Weber said the first step in obtaining federal assistance is to have the Washington State Department of Emergency Management review the damage and damage assessment. Weber said this department would send a team out to gather information on the approximate costs to repair the damages. The governor’s office will then forward this information to the executive office of the President of the United States, who may or may not declare Douglas County a disaster area. There is about a 50-50 chance, Weber said.

Weber said Commissioner Joan Patterson flew over the entire county last weekend. Pictures were taken of the various areas affected by the floodwaters.

Weber said roads lost at this time include Central Ferry Canyon down below Bridgeport to the river, Whitley Canyon, Bridgeport Bar, Foster Creek Road and Foster Creek Bridge, Mary Jane Hill, Upper Pearl, Straw Canyon from Highway 174 to the river, Twin Springs, China Creek, Barker Canyon, various major and minor arterials throughout the Mansfield/Waterville Plateau, the Palisades road and various roads in the East Wenatchee area.

Douglas County Public Works Director Peter Ringsrud estimated road damage alone at $6 to $8 million.

Weber said the flooding could be devastating to the road budget particularly if federal relief funds are not received.

Flooding within the city limits of Waterville has been minimal, according to City Superintendent Carl Koenig. He reported a little flooding on Rainier and Third streets, and one yard and one basement have been flooded, but nothing too serious.

Waterville’s sewer lagoon is okay, Koenig said, but you can’t get to it right now.