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Trucks Haul 500,000 Sandbags In Okanogan Valley As Emergency Prep Continues

Emily Schwing
Northwest News Network
Thousands of sand bags are being shipped to locations throughout the Okanogan Valley as crews prepare for major flooding.

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.

Gov. Jay Inslee already declared a state of emergency in Okanogan and 19 other counties because of flooding in multiple rivers.

Trucks of all sizes have been driving up and down the highway all day carrying loads of sand. A few filled with furniture—presumably someone’s belongings on their way to higher ground.

“Well, we’ve already had a disaster,” said Jeff Sevigney, a public information officer for the Northeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team. “Last Saturday, the water crested over 21 feet and damaged a lot of structures, displaced a lot of people.”

Locals said the Okanogan River usually crests three times in the spring. But this second round of high water could be extreme.

Emergency Crews and volunteers in Tonasket have filled thousands of sandbags here in the last week. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is sending nearly 500,000 more.