Disasters and Accidents

Disasters and Accidents

Emily Schwing / n

Emergency crews have been preparing for high water in Washington state's Okanogan Valley since early in the month. The Okanogan River hasn’t even crested yet, but they’re already starting to think about what happens when the flood is over.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

Emergency management officials are trying to protect drinking water systems throughout the Okanogan Valley from flood water contamination.

Emily Schwing/Northwest News Network

Crews with the Washington Department of Transportation have been working for two days to fortify a stretch of U.S. Highway 97 threatened by the rising Okanogan River.

A few days ago, there were a few small piles of sandbags, some cones and a sign warned drivers to slow down at Milepost 313.

Now, traffic is whittled down to a single lane as crews work to spread piles of sand along the shoulder on both sides of the road. Small, brown sandbags line the roadsides. A front loader moves massive piles of giant white sandbags that are each half the size of a small station wagon.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

Throughout north central and northeastern Washington state, residents are preparing for the worst. Rivers are already full and they’re expected to rise even farther as more flood water makes its way down from Canada.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

It’s been a busy day along Highway 97 near Tonasket, Washington, as trucks haul sand and sandbags to communities that could be affected by extreme flooding along the Okanogan River. The river first crested last Saturday.

But residents are bracing for more.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

The National Weather Service is predicting possible thunderstorms later this week around the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, Washington. That could cause the Eightmile Lake Dam above the town to fail.

And a simmering dispute between the local irrigation district and the U.S. Forest Service isn’t helping.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

Volunteers joined emergency crews this week to brace for the possibility of major flooding on a number of rivers in north central and eastern Washington state.

The combination of a near-record snowpack in southern British Columbia and temperatures soaring into the upper 80s has caused flood watches starting at the U.S.-Canada border running south along the Okanogan River.

Correspondent Emily Schwing is on the scene and sent back these photos.

  

Anna King / Northwest News Network

The National Weather Service is concerned about this week’s warm weather rapidly melting snow upstream of Leavenworth, Washington, this week. There may also be storms on the way.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

A number of rivers in north central and eastern Washington are in imminent danger of flooding. That’s because spring temperatures have soared into the upper 80s and Canada’s near record snowpack is melting fast.

Flooding hasn’t been this bad in the Okanogan Valley since 1972. This week, forecasters say, it could get close to breaking that record.

Okanogan County Fire District Commissioner Jack Denison said that’s a “worst case scenario.”

Emily Schwing/Northwest News Network

Towns in central and northeast Washington are under flood watches as rivers swell from rapid snowmelt in the mountains.

In the small Washington border town of Oroville, the Okanogan River is above flood stage and the river is expected to begin flooding south as the week progresses.

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