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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Quileute Reservation Cut Off By Flood Waters

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National Weather Service
Heavy rain around La Push, Washington, has cut off the Quileute Indian Reservation.

Heavy rains have flooded the one road in and out of La Push on the Washington coast. That means the 300-400 residents of the Quileute Indian Reservation are cut off.

Rio Jaime is the tribe’s vice chair. He managed to make it into the town of Forks using a gravel emergency evacuation route, but he said that road is not passable for most vehicles.

“It’s a graveled, logging road that hasn’t been in use for a long time,” he said. “Normal vehicles are essentially trapped on the reservation unless you have a four-wheel drive or off-road type vehicle. That’s the only way to go up and down this particular logging road.”

Jaime said he’s spoken with tribal members who need diapers and other provisions, but can’t get into town. So far La Push itself hasn’t flooded, but Jaime says he’s concerned about the combination of high tides and the rising Quileute River.

The tribe has been trying for years to move to higher ground. Land has been set aside by Congress, but Jaime said the cost of moving is still prohibitive.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."