Record rainfall leads to flooding in Aberdeen and Hoquiam

A record-setting day of rain contributed mightily to flooding in Hoquiam and neighboring Aberdeen on Thursday, Jan. 6.

The rainfall in Hoquiam on Thursday measured 5.78 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle. That figure marked the wettest day on record for Hoquaim. Aberdeen received a similar amount of rain, based on National Weather Service data.

The rainfall, combined with a high tide, shoved water elsewhere in Grays Harbor County, closed numerous roads, with some so filled with water they looked like shallow pools in the mid- to late-afternoon.

At least some businesses in Grays Harbor were concerned about being flooded.

Count Tinderbox Coffee Roasters, 113 E. Wishkah St., as one of them on Thursday.

Leon O’Donnell, barista at Tinderbox, was working Thursday morning when his boss arrived to the coffee shop and distracted Leon while he was filling an order.

“My boss just came in,” he said. “She brought in like nine sandbags because the water’s supposed to reach the door by 3 p.m. because that’s when high tide is.”

O’Donnell said he didn’t have difficulty driving in Thursday morning from Hoquiam, since it was low tide when he left for work, but he said Hoquiam River was really high.

Alex Kluh, insurance agent with American Family Insurance (AFI,) 323 W. Heron St., was watching the water level on South M Street on Thursday afternoon.

Kluh said he hoped the building where his daughter goes to school, in Aberdeen, wasn’t flooded. He was also concerned about the depth of the water rising in front of the steps to his business, which looks onto South M Street and down West Heron Street.

Aberdeen and Hoquiam school districts closed schools early Thursday and closed them completely on Friday, Jan. 7. The Montesano School District was closed Friday. North Beach School District also canceled school on Friday.

Kluh said Thursday he wasn’t worried, yet.

“I’ve seen it higher than this,” he said. “About six years ago we had another big flood.”

Kluh was referring to the flood that happened right after he started working for AFI in Aberdeen.

“It was Jan. 5, 2015, that (the rain) did this last,” he said. “I’m an insurance agent, so I remember those things.”

Kluh remembers the water was similar to what bombarded Aberdeen on Thursday. It rained 4.58 inches on Jan. 4, 2015, and then 2.58 inches on Jan. 5, 2015, for a combined total of 7.16 inches during a 24-hour period, according to the University of Washington.

“But there were lots of landslides and that kind of thing on some of the hills around town,” Kluh said. “I haven’t heard of any of that yet, but who knows what will happen? It’s not over yet. (It) doesn’t seem to be.”

Kluh said he’s received some calls from concerned customers asking about how their coverage would work.

The flooding continued into early Friday morning throughout Grays Harbor County with constant warnings sent out over social media.

Grays Harbor County Emergency Management set numerous watches and warnings for Grays Harbor County on Friday morning.

Road closures can be found on the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management website.

Aberdeen Police posted an update on Facebook just before noon Friday that Evans Street and several other roads in South Aberdeen were still under water. The post states the same holds true for Cherry Street and other streets in Aberdeen’s West End.

The post also states there were a total of 17 road closures throughout Grays Harbor County and that Interstate 5 had a 20-mile stretch shut down in the Chehalis-Grand Mound area because of flooding.

The city of Aberdeen, as of the time of the Facebook post, was getting more pallets of sandbags delivered from Grays Harbor Department of Emergency Management. The locations to pick up sandbags are as follows:

■ 1201 W. Heron St., in the back parking lot of the Water Department

■ North Division Street, across the street from Crown Distributing.