Three counties in western Washington were declared federal disaster areas Monday in the wake of widespread flooding that caused an estimated $42 million in damage before a second surge of water added to the misery over the holiday weekend.
Carl Suchocki, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Administration in Washington, D.C., said Monday that Scagit, Whatcom and Snohomish counties were declared disaster areas by President Bush and that other counties could be added to the list after damage surveys are completed.The declaration clears the way for federal help in obtaining temporary housing, grants and loans to affected individuals and businesses.
Gov. Booth Gardner has asked that 10 additional counties be added to the list in the wake of the second wave of flooding over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Rivers swollen by torrential rains began receding Monday as commuters weathered the loss of a major interstate bridge, dairy farmers discovered entire herds lost and residents began returning to flooded homes.
No official damage estimates were available, but losses were expected to reach into the tens of millions of dollars. Flooding two weeks earlier already caused $42 million in damage to homes, businesses, roads and other public facilities.
Already prior to Thanksgiving, 57 homes were wiped out, 400 more were heavily damaged and another 400 received minor damage in flooding Nov. 9-12. Officials said damage from the second wave would likely be higher.
More than a dozen rivers overflowed their banks and several thousand people scrambled for higher ground. One man caught by the floodwaters of the Snoqualmie River near Duvall was presumed drowned.
By Monday morning, the waters in most areas of western Washington were slowly subsiding.