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Governor Declares State of Emergency Over Flooding In Eastern Washington

High waters on the Okanogan River in the city of Omak, Washington.
Courtesy Okanogan Department of Emergency Management
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High waters on the Okanogan River in the city of Omak, Washington.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency for nearly all of Central and Eastern Washington. 20 counties are facing heavy flooding as rapidly melting snow makes its way into rivers and streams.

Nine rivers east of the cascades are seeing major or moderate flooding, or are nearing flood stage.  Over the next few days, temperatures are forecast to rise to near or above 80 degrees. That means snow at higher elevations is likely to melt and enter waterways rapidly. 

The emergency declaration covers Ferry, Okanogan and Pend Oreille Counties which are already experiencing flooding, as well as 17 other counties in Central and in Eastern Washington where rivers are likely to flood in the coming days as temperatures rise. 

In a statement, the Governor said flood waters have damaged water and sewage treatment facilities, inundated local roads and state highways and impacted utilities. Rural communities like Omak and Tonasket are seeing major flooding from the Okanogan River. In Pend Oreille County, residents of Usk, Cusick and Newport have been filling sandbags in anticipation of high waters on the Pend Oreille River.

The emergency proclamation allows the Governor to activate Washington’s National Guard, if necessary. The flood threat is expected to persist for at least the next seven days.

Copyright 2018 Northwest News Network

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.