Pacific residents fight uphill battle against fast-rising water

Pacific residents fight uphill battle against fast-rising water »Play Video
PACIFIC, Wash. -- Homeowners here raced against the clock Thursday night to try to stave off a river that quickly rose overnight -- a battle many of them lost.

The water began rising around 7 p.m. Thursday, and by Friday morning, some 300 homes were surrounded or inundated by flood waters, with water as deep as 4-5 feet in some places.

Firefighters were going door to door to check up on homeowners, and those who wanted to leave were being evacuated by boat.

"(I feel) helpless, completely helpless, I really don't know what to do," said homeowner Debra Jenkins. "We just have to take what comes and try to get things cleaned up."

Neighbors made a valiant effort Thursday night to fill sandbags in the hopes of keeping the river back. For some homeowners, it made a difference, but for others, the water just rose so fast they had no chance and are now faced with water several inches deep in their homes.

City officials were trying to determine whether water released from Mud Mountain Dam by the Army Corps of Engineers exacerbated the situation. The Corps said crews were forced to release some water from the reservoir, as is standard procedure during heavy rain events to relieve pressure on the dam. The rate of the water release was well within the acceptable range for the White River to handle without flooding, the Corps said.

But the river received an unusually high water volume from creeks and river tributaries draining into the White River, and combined with the incredible amount of rainfall, led the river to levels not previously seen, the Corps said.

Homeowners who have lived in the flooded development for several years say they've never seen floodwaters in their neighborhood. Even during the record floods of 2006, water only reached a nearby park.

The Corps said it will try to lower the flow out of the dam as residents keep a weary eye on water levels. Fire officials said if the water level were to keep rising, they may have to order evacuations.