Flood waters recede, now cleanup time

January 12, 2009

By Staff

Sisters Jennifer Davies, Julianne Long and Mindy Heintz (from left) retrieve belongings Jan. 8 from the toppled guesthouse at the home of their parents, Jack and Karen Brooks, beside Issaquah Creek in the 23300 block of Southeast May Valley Road. By Greg Farrar

Sisters Jennifer Davies, Julianne Long and Mindy Heintz (from left) retrieve belongings Jan. 8 from the toppled guesthouse at the home of their parents, Jack and Karen Brooks, beside Issaquah Creek in the 23300 block of Southeast May Valley Road. By Greg Farrar

Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks overflowed their banks Jan. 8, leaving residents and business owners to clean up the mud and the muck, but also left some Gilman Boulevard businesses with an uncertain future.

Diane Symms, owner of Lombardi’s restaurant, said it’s unclear whether she will reopen in the Gilman Square shopping complex. Symms said she had fully intended to reopen the flood-damaged restaurant by Jan. 24, and in the past few days, had hired a crew to rip out carpeting, tear out drywall and clear the parking lot of mud and debris.

But she said she was informed Jan. 11 by landlord DeWayne Briscoe that she might not have a lease if there is more than 50 percent damage to the building’s exterior. She said Briscoe would inform her within 30 days.

“This can be a real rollercoaster ride, but I’m leaning toward opening in two to three weeks,” Symms said. “But then again, that could all change.”

Briscoe could not be reached for comment.

Floodwaters reached more than two feet high in Lombardi’s main dining room. All of the carpeting, drywall and furnishings had to be removed from the restaurant. Symms estimates the restaurant had between $275,000 to $325,000 damage, which is covered by insurance.

“I’m pretty experienced at this,” she said. “This is the fourth flood in 19 years and I’ve been here for three of them.”

The morning of the flooding, a lone white pickup truck was buried in the Gilman Square parking lot with water up to its windows.

Symms met with insurance agents and lawyers to plot her next course of action. But she suggests city officials purchase the property and turn it into a flood storage area for the next time Issaquah Creek spills over its banks.

“We’ve had millions of dollars in damage over the years, and we’ve had six or seven times when we came within inches of going under,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for the city.”

A pickup pushed a pile of mud while other workers with squeegees cleared muck and debris Jan. 12 from the shopping complex from last week’s flooding. The half-dozen businesses at the strip mall behind Lombardi’s all sustained water damage from the flooding.

Patty Green, owner of Sisters Antiques, used a box cutter to rip out damaged carpeting over the weekend. On Jan. 9, she said she was able to get to the shop without water going over her knee-high boots.

“I looked through the window to find about a foot of water throughout the shop,” she said.

The drywall was waterlogged and has to be replaced. Two huge dehumidifiers are located in the shop, pulling moisture out.

Kindness floods in after water

Although she estimates the loss to be in the “thousands of dollars,” she said she has been impressed by random acts of kindness by customers and local business owners and managers.

“I had one customer drop off a really sweet card with a $100 bill inside and he said, ‘I’m sorry I can’t do more,’” she said.

The owner of Round Table Pizza dropped off pizzas for all of the businesses in Gilman Square on Jan. 9, she said.

“People have been rallying around us and that shows what kind of community we have,” she said. Green is now having a flood sale, with merchandise discounted 25 to 35 percent.

“The more mud, the bigger the discount,” Green said.

Noel Fosnaugh, owner of Graybeard Gilman Antique Gallery, said his store had 8 inches of standing water and damage to the carpeting and drywall. He estimates the direct loss from the flooding at $5,000. Restoring the antique furnishings will cost him $10,000, he projects.

Fosnaugh said he’s also open for business.

“We need the cash flow,” he said. “Right now, more is pouring out than pouring in.”

Kim Wilson, a customer service manager at Sterling Savings bank branch on Gilman Boulevard arrived at 8 a.m. Jan. 8 to find the lobby under two inches of water. The sound of circuit breakers crackling could be heard in the darkened bank.

At the entrance stood an antique milk jug from a nearby store. The sheer force of the rising waters from Issaquah Creek moved even large commercial trash bins.

The former site of the Tiger Mountain Grill restaurant was under water and the parking lot of Gilman Village was dotted with traffic cones alerting motorists to high water.

Guesthouse falls into creek

Northeast Dogwood Street was coated in mud that was ankle deep near the curbs. Andrew Fawcett, who lives on the third floor of the Bavarian Condominiums, was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by a television news helicopter.

“I looked down and saw about 15 people frantically sandbagging,” he said. “This caught us by surprise.”

The guesthouse of Jack and Karen Brooks, at 23321 Southeast May Valley Road, fell into Issaquah Creek. Their daughter, Julianne Long, 43, was living in the 600-square-foot structure. She was not home when it fell into the creek at about 4:30 a.m., having evacuated the night before.

“I thought I lost everything. But I’ve got some crazy people, who I dearly love, in there trying to salvage stuff,” said Long, who’d been living in the guest home for the past few months.

The Brookses have lived next door for 40 years.

“This is not a happy day for us,” Jack Brooks said. “This is just terrible. I had no idea this could happen.

“In 1990, we had some problems with the creek erosion, but managed to get through it,” he said. “That was nothing like this.”

The home was not flooded. But the creek bank was slowly eroded by the rising waters until the 15-foot buffer was gone.

Two sections of Issaquah-Hobart Road were closed, the first by Issaquah Public Works personnel who were clearing clogged drains that caused about 100 yards of flooding along the southbound roadway.

The King County Sheriff’s Office blocked Issaquah-Hobart Road from the Sycamore neighborhood to May Valley Road. A culvert of the north fork of Issaquah Creek became blocked, sending the entire flow across the road. In the direct path of the flow was Kevin Dunn’s home, where about two feet of water accumulated in his crawl space and garage.

“I would definitely say this is one of the worst floods we’ve seen since ‘96,” said Autumn Monahan, communications coordinator for the city.

Hatchery, nearby homes flooded, too

The floodwaters from Issaquah Creek also exceeded the capabilities of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

“This is the worst I’ve seen it in 19 years of work here,” said Mike Griffin, a hatchery manager. “It rivals the 1996 flooding. But considering the amount of water and the height of the creek, we survived pretty good.”

Large filters at the end of the fish ponds had trapped sand and mud about 20 feet wide and about 3 feet tall. Unfortunately, much of that had slowly seeped into the ponds.

“It isn’t good for their gills, that is for sure,” Griffin said. “But they are fairly healthy and suited for this kind of event in the Pacific Northwest.”

Griffin also lives on the hatchery property and said the water was within a half-inch of making its way inside his home.

“This morning, my entire house was an island,” he said. “I came home in my waders and got up this morning to put my waders back on, and that was just to get to high ground.”

Several 10-cubic yard trash bins came in close contact with the creek, too.

“They came down the creek and when they hit the bridge, it sounded like a sonic boom,” he said.

Near the intersection of Front Street South and Newport Way, you could see one of those trash bins near Julie Nierenberg’s home on Front Street South.

Inside was the constant buzz of water slurping through shop vacuum cleaners.

Kathy Nierenberg, Julie’s daughter-in-law, said she and her husband, who live in Fall City, and his brother Rich Nierenberg and his wife Linda, who live in Sammamish, had been at the home since about 2 a.m. trying to contain the water to the basement.

“We’ve been at it for nearly 10 hours,” Kathy Nierenberg said. “It’s let up a lot. At one point, we were just trying to keep up with it coming in.”

The home has been flooding on and off for nearly 43 years, since Julie Nierenberg moved into it in 1966.

“This is one of the worst ones,” Kathy Nierenberg said. “It came up all the way around to the front yard and that has only happened a couple of times.”

By about noon, the three shop vacuums had sucked most of the water from the basement, except for one back storage room, which still had about a foot of water in it.

“It fills in about 30 seconds,” Rich Nierenberg said. “Every 30 seconds, we have to stop and dump it down the drain in the basement.”

While her children and their spouses worked on the home, they said Julie, who’s about a month away from turning 90, kept them supplied with ham sandwiches and coffee.

Much of the furniture can be dried out and the appliances — refrigerator, stove and washer and dryer — all seemed to still be working.

“It’s amazing how many floods they’ve made it through and they just keep going,” Kathy Nierenberg said.

But it will take weeks to completely dry the home out and get rid of any damaged items, Rich Nierenberg said.

Once that’s done, Julie Nierenberg will take them all out for a nice dinner — the only payment they need, Rich Nierenberg said, smiling.

Reporters David Hayes and J.B. Wogan, Editor Kathleen R. Merrill and photographer Greg Farrar contributed to this story. Post your comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks overflowed their banks Jan. 8, leaving residents and business owners to clean up the mud and the muck, but also left some Gilman Boulevard businesses with an uncertain future.

Diane Symms, owner of Lombardi’s restaurant, said it’s unclear whether she will reopen in the Gilman Square shopping complex. Symms said she had fully intended to reopen the flood-damaged restaurant by Jan. 24, and in the past few days, had hired a crew to rip out carpeting, tear out drywall and clear the parking lot of mud and debris.

But she said she was informed Jan. 11 by landlord DeWayne Briscoe that she might not have a lease if there is more than 50 percent damage to the building’s exterior. She said Briscoe would inform her within 30 days.

“This can be a real rollercoaster ride, but I’m leaning toward opening in two to three weeks,” Symms said. “But then again, that could all change.”

Briscoe could not be reached for comment.

Floodwaters reached more than two feet high in Lombardi’s main dining room. All of the carpeting, drywall and furnishings had to be removed from the restaurant. Symms estimates the restaurant had between $275,000 to $325,000 damage, which is covered by insurance.

“I’m pretty experienced at this,” she said. “This is the fourth flood in 19 years and I’ve been here for three of them.”

The morning of the flooding, a lone white pickup truck was buried in the Gilman Square parking lot with water up to its windows.

Symms met with insurance agents and lawyers to plot her next course of action. But she suggests city officials purchase the property and turn it into a flood storage area for the next time Issaquah Creek spills over its banks.

“We’ve had millions of dollars in damage over the years, and we’ve had six or seven times when we came within inches of going under,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for the city.”

A pickup pushed a pile of mud while other workers with squeegees cleared muck and debris Jan. 12 from the shopping complex from last week’s flooding. The half-dozen businesses at the strip mall behind Lombardi’s all sustained water damage from the flooding.

Patty Green, owner of Sisters Antiques, used a box cutter to rip out damaged carpeting over the weekend. On Jan. 9, she said she was able to get to the shop without water going over her knee-high boots.

“I looked through the window to find about a foot of water throughout the shop,” she said.

The drywall was waterlogged and has to be replaced. Two huge dehumidifiers are located in the shop, pulling moisture out.

Kindness floods in after water

Although she estimates the loss to be in the “thousands of dollars,” she said she has been impressed by random acts of kindness by customers and local business owners and managers.

“I had one customer drop off a really sweet card with a $100 bill inside and he said, ‘I’m sorry I can’t do more,’” she said.

The owner of Round Table Pizza dropped off pizzas for all of the businesses in Gilman Square on Jan. 9, she said.

“People have been rallying around us and that shows what kind of community we have,” she said. Green is now having a flood sale, with merchandise discounted 25 to 35 percent.

“The more mud, the bigger the discount,” Green said.

Noel Fosnaugh, owner of Graybeard Gilman Antique Gallery, said his store had 8 inches of standing water and damage to the carpeting and drywall. He estimates the direct loss from the flooding at $5,000. Restoring the antique furnishings will cost him $10,000, he projects.

Fosnaugh said he’s also open for business.

“We need the cash flow,” he said. “Right now, more is pouring out than pouring in.”

Kim Wilson, a customer service manager at Sterling Savings bank branch on Gilman Boulevard arrived at 8 a.m. Jan. 8 to find the lobby under two inches of water. The sound of circuit breakers crackling could be heard in the darkened bank.

At the entrance stood an antique milk jug from a nearby store. The sheer force of the rising waters from Issaquah Creek moved even large commercial trash bins.

The former site of the Tiger Mountain Grill restaurant was under water and the parking lot of Gilman Village was dotted with traffic cones alerting motorists to high water.

Guesthouse falls into creek

Northeast Dogwood Street was coated in mud that was ankle deep near the curbs. Andrew Fawcett, who lives on the third floor of the Bavarian Condominiums, was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by a television news helicopter.

“I looked down and saw about 15 people frantically sandbagging,” he said. “This caught us by surprise.”

The guesthouse of Jack and Karen Brooks, at 23321 Southeast May Valley Road, fell into Issaquah Creek. Their daughter, Julianne Long, 43, was living in the 600-square-foot structure. She was not home when it fell into the creek at about 4:30 a.m., having evacuated the night before.

“I thought I lost everything. But I’ve got some crazy people, who I dearly love, in there trying to salvage stuff,” said Long, who’d been living in the guest home for the past few months.

The Brookses have lived next door for 40 years.

“This is not a happy day for us,” Jack Brooks said. “This is just terrible. I had no idea this could happen.

“In 1990, we had some problems with the creek erosion, but managed to get through it,” he said. “That was nothing like this.”

The home was not flooded. But the creek bank was slowly eroded by the rising waters until the 15-foot buffer was gone.

Two sections of Issaquah-Hobart Road were closed, the first by Issaquah Public Works personnel who were clearing clogged drains that caused about 100 yards of flooding along the southbound roadway.

The King County Sheriff’s Office blocked Issaquah-Hobart Road from the Sycamore neighborhood to May Valley Road. A culvert of the north fork of Issaquah Creek became blocked, sending the entire flow across the road. In the direct path of the flow was Kevin Dunn’s home, where about two feet of water accumulated in his crawl space and garage.

“I would definitely say this is one of the worst floods we’ve seen since ‘96,” said Autumn Monahan, communications coordinator for the city.

Hatchery, nearby homes flooded, too

The floodwaters from Issaquah Creek also exceeded the capabilities of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

“This is the worst I’ve seen it in 19 years of work here,” said Mike Griffin, a hatchery manager. “It rivals the 1996 flooding. But considering the amount of water and the height of the creek, we survived pretty good.”

Large filters at the end of the fish ponds had trapped sand and mud about 20 feet wide and about 3 feet tall. Unfortunately, much of that had slowly seeped into the ponds.

“It isn’t good for their gills, that is for sure,” Griffin said. “But they are fairly healthy and suited for this kind of event in the Pacific Northwest.”

Griffin also lives on the hatchery property and said the water was within a half-inch of making its way inside his home.

“This morning, my entire house was an island,” he said. “I came home in my waders and got up this morning to put my waders back on, and that was just to get to high ground.”

Several 10-cubic yard trash bins came in close contact with the creek, too.

“They came down the creek and when they hit the bridge, it sounded like a sonic boom,” he said.

Near the intersection of Front Street South and Newport Way, you could see one of those trash bins near Julie Nierenberg’s home on Front Street South.

Inside was the constant buzz of water slurping through shop vacuum cleaners.

Kathy Nierenberg, Julie’s daughter-in-law, said she and her husband, who live in Fall City, and his brother Rich Nierenberg and his wife Linda, who live in Sammamish, had been at the home since about 2 a.m. trying to contain the water to the basement.

“We’ve been at it for nearly 10 hours,” Kathy Nierenberg said. “It’s let up a lot. At one point, we were just trying to keep up with it coming in.”

The home has been flooding on and off for nearly 43 years, since Julie Nierenberg moved into it in 1966.

“This is one of the worst ones,” Kathy Nierenberg said. “It came up all the way around to the front yard and that has only happened a couple of times.”

By about noon, the three shop vacuums had sucked most of the water from the basement, except for one back storage room, which still had about a foot of water in it.

“It fills in about 30 seconds,” Rich Nierenberg said. “Every 30 seconds, we have to stop and dump it down the drain in the basement.”

While her children and their spouses worked on the home, they said Julie, who’s about a month away from turning 90, kept them supplied with ham sandwiches and coffee.

Much of the furniture can be dried out and the appliances — refrigerator, stove and washer and dryer — all seemed to still be working.

“It’s amazing how many floods they’ve made it through and they just keep going,” Kathy Nierenberg said.

But it will take weeks to completely dry the home out and get rid of any damaged items, Rich Nierenberg said.

Once that’s done, Julie Nierenberg will take them all out for a nice dinner — the only payment they need, Rich Nierenberg said, smiling.

Reporters David Hayes and J.B. Wogan, Editor Kathleen R. Merrill and photographer Greg Farrar contributed to this story. Post your comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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Comments

2 Responses to “Flood waters recede, now cleanup time”

  1. Patty Green on January 13th, 2009 8:02 am

    Thank you! Thank you to all of you in the greater Issaquah community and surrounding areas who have given up your time and energy to help businesses such as Sisters Antiques, as well as the many homeowners who have been so impacted by the flooding last Thursday. We are all so appreciative of your efforts and could not have gotten through this without you!

    – Patty Green

  2. Douglas Shackelford on January 13th, 2009 11:52 am

    Effective emergency flood protection is an imperative. This is another example of the critical need for communities and property owners to make PROACTIVE plans for the next flood. As a community and as a country we must reduce the damage from flooding. Beyond the pain and suffering that the damage causes, the over all cost is staggering and unsustainable. Sandbags are a poor choice because they don’t work well unless placed with great care, the time and resources needed to put them in place, the environmental impact of disposal and the long term health risks.

    For a few thousands of dollars, spent proactively, a property owner can have emergency flood protection for the next decade or two.

    New emergency flood protection technologies are finally available that improve performance, reduce manpower demands, decrease costs and are reusable for a decade or more. They won’t stop all losses but are effective in an estimated 75% of flooding situations. You can learn more about one such system at http://www.floodwalls.com. But you’ll have to act before the next flood hits or you’ll have the same situation again, and again, and again.

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