A deluge of rain coupled with snowmelt and king tides this week served as a reminder of how important it is for Aberdeen and Hoquiam to have more substantial flood protection.
The combination of weather-related events led to flooded streets, snarled roadways, frustrated business owners and motorists, who had to navigate the mess for days on end.
The inclement weather also forced Hoquiam Fire Department personnel to go door-to-door on Monday, Jan. 3, to help evacuate homes after the Hoquiam River spilled over.
The magnitude of substantial flood protection was not lost on Hoquiam City Administrator Brian Shay, who spoke to The Daily World a day after unexpected flooding wreaked havoc in the area.
“One thing I’d say about the flood,” said Shay on Tuesday, Jan. 4. “It’s an exact reminder of why Aberdeen and Hoquiam are building the North Shore Levee Project.”
He’s spot on.
The levee, which would stretch about 6 miles across Aberdeen and neighboring Hoquiam, boasts numerous benefits for the area. The levee would protect roughly 3,100 properties and nearly 1,000 businesses from flooding, as well as remove them from the more than $1 million in required federal flood insurance premiums.
The cost to build the levee, which would directly or indirectly create about 1,000 jobs, is estimated at roughly $80 million. The levee project is currently in its final preconstruction stages.
In the meantime, the cities are working to secure funding for the project — something that has been going on for some time now. One of the big hopes for money lies with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program.
The program is designed to allocate money to help communities shift focus away from disaster recovery spending and rather spend money on projects, such as the North Shore Levee, to prevent disasters from happening.
Applications for the program were due in September 2021, according to a timeline spelled out by Aberdeen City Engineer Kris Koski in August 2021 to The Daily World. While we are not clear about the status of the application, we are certain the North Shore Levee Project is worthy and are hopeful the people responsible for evaluating such applications feel the same way.
While $80 million is a lot of money, the safety and security the levee project would provide to residents and business owners of Aberdeen and Hoquiam is well worth the cost. Recent weather-related events make that absolutely clear.