City praised for its lines of communication during floods

January 19, 2009

By Jim Feehan

Mayor Ava Frisinger gave the city high marks for communicating with the community during the flood. The city’s use of its Web site, reader boards, radio and cable access television station provided in many cases up-to-the minute information about Issaquah Creek, she said.

“Many people said the updates on the creek level was helpful to them,” Frisinger said. “Each flood is different and we can never anticipate what floods can do. That’s what makes it difficult each time.”

A creekside restoration project at Squak Valley Park that would reconnect Issaquah Creek with its historical floodplain by removing portions of a 950-foot-long levee built in the 1930s would help keep residents in the Sycamore neighborhood from future floods, Frisinger said.

Improving stream flow and side channels will help in future flooding episodes, she said.

The region’s heavy snow in December, coupled with rains and moderate temperatures were all contributing factors to the flooding earlier this month. The fact that the creek crested twice in a few hours did not bode well for Gilman Square merchants, she said.

“We had two surges,” she said. “The water crested, dropped a little and then was followed by another surge. The water never got to Lake Sammamish. Some of this activity is not as predictable as previous floods.”

King County officials are continuing to work with the state to secure federal disaster assistance to help individuals and businesses with repairs and the costs of debris removal. Dan Trimble, the city’s economic development manager, met with Gilman Square merchants to discuss possible county, state and federal assistance, Frisinger said.

The city’s cleanup and restoration work has continued following the flood. Estimates for the cost to the city for flood cleanup are still being tabulated, said Autumn Monahan, city public information officer.

Residents got some extra help by being able to drop off flood-damaged materials at no charge Jan. 17-19 at Tibbetts Valley Park.

Meanwhile, the owner of Lombardi’s Neighborhood Italian restaurant said she’s reopening for business Jan. 30. Damage to the restaurant was extensive. All of the kitchen equipment will be replaced along with carpets and Sheetrock, said owner Diane Symms.

A majority of the restaurant’s tables and chairs were saved when Symms closed the restaurant at 8 p.m. Jan. 7 and quickly loaded “everything we could into a 25-foot moving truck.”

Damage to the restaurant was extensive, about $300,000 Symms estimated, with most of it covered by insurance.

In the meantime, Symms said she has 30 hourly employees who will have gone three weeks without a paycheck.

“We’re asking for our customers to consider a donation to our employees,” she said.

All contributions are tax-deductible, she said.

Free clinics teach you how to clean up after floods

In the wake of recent flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and The Home Depot are teaming up to teach residents how to safely re-enter their homes after a flood, take steps to salvage belongings and clean the entire home.

These tips will include mold mitigation and how to regain a healthy home. The clinics at the Issaquah Home Depot are from noon – 1 p.m. and from 2-3 p.m. Jan. 24 and 31, at 6200 E. Lake Sammamish Parkway.

Call 391-8467.

How to help

A flood relief fund, managed by Viking Bank, has been established for the 30 hourly employees at Lombardi’s who have been without income because of the flood. To contribute to the fund, mail a check to Viking Bank, P.O. Box 70546, Seattle, WA 98127.

Reach Reporter Jim Feehan at 392-6434, ext. 239, or jfeehan@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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