Flood victims hope for state assistance from extreme winter weather in Pierce County

Recovering from December’s extreme winter weather comes with a hefty bill. The price keeps going up for people in parts of Pierce County, as their clean-up reveals new damage from the recent storms.

Gig Harbor is one community hit the hardest by recent flooding from the king tide. Storeowners in one business plaza said they hope to receive some government assistance to help cover costs of damages. On top of lost revenue and product, the owner of Purdy Liquor Market said the floors were also ruined by the flood.

"There’s going to be some mold issues. There’s a concrete floor under the wooden floor," said storeowner Laura Scheel. "Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know until you get there. So, once we start moving things around we’re going to definitely see more damages."

Every store in the business plaza was still drying out from the flood, and preparing for the possibility of another.

"We’re trying to get the shop to a point where if this does continue happening and getting worse in the future, that damages can be minimal every time," said Stewart Wentworth, owner of Black Cat Barbershop.

Wentworth said the barbershop shut down for two days, as the community helped clean debris and fix some of the damages.

"I was contacted by Pierce County the other day about possibly getting some relief from that. But yeah, our floor is definitely going to have some mold, and we’re going to need to replace it at the end of the month," said Wentworth.

Flooding wasn’t the only extreme winter weather event that whipped through in Pierce County. A cold snap and a wind storm also caused damages. Pierce County Emergency Management wants to hear from anyone who is recovering from those storms that hit beginning December 17 through the end of the month. The details could potentially lead to relief funds from the state.

"We are collecting that information because the state contacted us to say that they were trying to get information about whether we would have enough damages to get either small business administration assistance or individual assistance grants through the state," said Mike Halliday, public information specialist for Pierce County Emergency Management.

Pierce County Emergency Management’s call center is available at 253-798-6363 for flood victims to provide contact information and a summary of damages. The call center is open 8 AM to 4 PM through Friday, January 6. Reports can also be filed online.

"This is not a guarantee that they’re going to get any funding, this is only for collecting information at this point," explained Halliday.

A representative with the Governor’s Office said its military department helps with damage assessments—which determines what kind of emergency response or recovery assistance is needed, if eligible.

While business owners wait for their answer, Scheel said she will have to close the store to clear out the product, repair the floor and then restock the shelves. She said community members have offered to lend a hand.

"Told us that they will come and help us to move things around when that big day comes. And I’m very appreciative of any help that we can get because small businesses don’t have deep pockets. So, anything helps," said Scheel.