Homes take on water in Okanogan County; flooding approaches historic levels
TONASKET, Wash. — Homeowners are rushing to protect their property in Okanogan County as the river is expected to rise to near historic levels.
The National Weather Service says by the end of this week, water levels could potentially surpass levels reached in flooding that devastated the community in 1972. Over the weekend, the river crested at just more than 19 feet. But, through the week it’s expected to rise to around 22 feet.
That could have devastating effects, as several homes in the area were already taking on water this weekend.
Johnnie Frazier has a summer home in Oroville and says last week friends called him to tell him the Okanogan River was flooding. He says when he arrived there were two layers of sandbags around his property, but it still wasn’t enough to protect it.
“I have probably about four and a half to five feet of water in my basement,” Frazier said.
Frazier is now preparing for the water to get even higher than it was this weekend, and potentially cause even more damage.
“They’re saying Thursday, it could come up another 18 inches above this sandbag,” Frazier said while pointing to the double layer of sandbags surrounding his home. “So, it’s going to be crazy.”
Frazier says he’s grateful for those sandbags on his property. They were placed by community members who knew he wouldn’t make it to the home in time to put them down himself.
Volunteers have been dedicating their time to fill and deliver thousands of sandbags every day to homeowners who need them.
“We’re taking them wherever they’re needed. Up to 15,000 bags a day,” said Stacey Storm, a Tonasket woman who has been spending hours a day to get those bags ready.
Storm also set up tables full of food and beverages to keep the volunteers nourished in the hot weather. Temperatures Monday warmed up into the lower 90’s in Okanogan County.
And Storm isn’t out of the clear herself. As she volunteers, the flood waters are covering her property as well.
“I have not lost any structures. Just pastures are under water,” she said.
Storm says she knows she’s lucky compared to a lot of her neighbors. She said he’s heard of multiple homes in the area that have sustained damage.
And even though Frazier has already lost his basement to the flood, and things are predicted to get worse, he says he’s not going to worry about what’s going to happen. He says he accepts that it’s not in his power.
“God’s in control. So, it’s in his hands,” he said.
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