Snohomish County collecting info on flood damages for disaster aid request

Snohomish County declared a State of Emergency after record-setting rain and flooding this week.

On Thursday, the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management launched a Flood Impact Survey to learn more information from homes, businesses and farms affected by the storms. 

"We know that there are areas of impacts, but we want to better understand what those impacts look like," said Lucia Schmit, director of Emergency Management.

The county explained the survey is meant to "identify where problems are most concentrated and should figure into mitigation efforts." Officials said pictures, estimates, and information collected will also help support the county’s request for possible state and federal disaster aid towards recovery efforts.

"If there’s still muck on the wall, as that shows where the water level was, please, please, please take a picture of that before you clean the muck off the walls, so that we have that photographic evidence of how high the water was within the home," said Schmit.

The Stillaguamish River caused much of the destruction during the flooding event. As the water recedes, people are beginning to return to their homes, businesses, farms to assess damages and clean their property.

"So much more damage than we ever would have thought," said Victoria Babb, who lives in Granite Falls. 

Babb, her husband, and their baby moved to Granite Falls from the East Coast in 2021. They bought their dream house next to the Stillaguamish River and made sure to get flood insurance. She said their family hoped they would never have to use it.

"Kind of looks like a hurricane went through," said Babb while looking at the damages to her house.

Before the flooding, Babb said she and her family had just enough time to move some items to high ground before the high waters spilled through. She said water outside the home, however, was too high for them to leave, so they hunkered down and waited out the storm.

"Then we heard the water bubbling up through the floorboards. And that’s a very scary sound, a very gurgling, disgusting, terrifying sound."

A foot of water spilled into their home. Babb said the overflow left behind costly repairs and destroyed several items.

"Try and sort through and see what’s trash, what’s clean, what’s salvageable," said Babb. "My husband and I both literally cried when our friends said they were going to come over and help. All of our family lives on the East Coast, so we don’t have biological support out here. But we have friends that are like family."

While so many people like Babb begin cleaning up from the storm, the Snohomish County Health Department is reminding people of practices to maintain health and safety.

"This is not clean water coming into your house. These are contaminated waters that really can have harmful health effects and cause all kinds of internal illness as well as in the environment, like the molds and mildews," said Dennis Worsham, Snohomish County Health Department director.

RELATED: Port Orchard food bank loses 20,000 lbs of food in flood waters

The health department provided a list of tips during flood recovery efforts, including:

  • Do not drink water from a private system that has been flooded. Treat water or bring it to a full rolling boil for at least 1 minute before using. Water for brushing teeth or washing dishes or food also should be boiled or treated.
  • Discard food that has contacted floodwater and does not have an airtight seal. Cans should be rinsed in a diluted bleach solution before opening.
  • Do not attempt to use electricity until the building's electrical system has been checked by a qualified professional.    

"In this part of our county, a number of people are on septic systems. Really checking, after the water had receded, to have those cleaned and pumped out, because we know that it can really be damaging to the environment for human health if there’s a problem or overflow with their septic," said Worsham.