In the next couple of years, residents in Aberdeen and Hoquiam will be able to breathe easier, because another step has been taken toward building the approximate $94 million North Shore Levee.
A group of state and local officials gathered at Zelasko Park to announce the securing of $50 million in Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grants for the North Shore Levee project.
The totality of the levee, which includes the west end of the levee, on Hoquiam’s side, costs about $94 million. More than half of that is out of the way.
Currently, the plan is for the first shovel to dig ground in 2024. The levee is projected to finish in 2025, with Washington state certification in 2026, according to Hoquiam City Administrator Brian Shay.
According to Hoquiam Mayor Ben Winkelman, there are about 8,700 residents in Hoquiam. According to the U.S. Census estimate in 2021, there are about 17,191 people in Aberdeen. With both cities inundated in floodwaters in January 2022, the project could affect 25,891 people, when the levee is finished.
When the levee is finished, Nunn said the project will stop floodwaters, promote future investments, affordable housing, create jobs, and there will be economic development.
“It will also remove about $1.2 million of flood insurance premiums from the community,” said Willie Nunn, director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region 10. “It will protect 3,100 properties, and 994 businesses. Also, it’s important to say economic growth will maintain 842 jobs and create new ones.”
The $50 million for the flooding is just one of seven projects in Washington to receive funds. The seven projects have received a combined $62.5 million in BRIC grants, according to Nunn.
The North Shore Levee project has been a long time coming. Nunn said he was told talks regarding the project started about 14 years ago. He was happy to announce this step is done.
“It’s an important step towards community resilience and increased public safety,” Nunn said.
Aberdeen Mayor Pete Schave spoke briefly about the significance of the funding for the area.
“This is an exciting time, as the first major milestone in the Aberdeen and Hoquiam Flood Protection Projct — the Fry Creek Pump station — is just beginning construction activities,” Schave said. “And now, this BRIC selection for the North Shore Levee Project, through FEMA, provides a massive boost that puts Aberdeen and Hoquiam in the position to provide critical flood protection for residents and businesses across our cities.”