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City officials file state of emergency as levy break causes more flooding in Yakima

City officials file state of emergency as levy break causes more flooding in Yakima

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The city of Yakima has filed a state of emergency after five days of severe flooding.

City officials said they hope the county will too at a press meeting Wednesday.

A levy break in Cowiche Creek off Highway 12 is the latest disaster with ongoing flooding around Yakima.

40th Avenue and Fruitvale Boulevard were engulfed by water, prompting more road closures in the area.

"We got hit harder this year, worse this year, than we did last year," said business owner Randy Wessleius.

It's the second year in a row the levy break has flooded businesses near the intersection. Not all are eligible for flood insurance in a designated non-flooding zone, leaving owners frustrated and seeking answers as the city seeks more help.

"We have filed a declaration of emergency with this particular incident," said Yakima Mayor Kathy Coffey.

City officials estimate $850,000 in flood damage so far. Crews from multiple city agencies have been working around the clock to sandbag and pump water.

More police resources have been brought in to patrol areas of need as well. But city officials said it's Mother Nature taking her toll.

"Debris in streams and creeks is always part of the question here, but the cause of this flood has been this massive snowfall and then the rapid warm-up," said Yakima City Manager Cliff Moore.

A warm-up with pouring run-off onto roads, orchards, and into homes.

City officials said there has been no oversight on their end.

"We always have crews throughout the year that take a look at those culverts and so forth to make sure that there's proper flowage going through," said Yakima Public Works Director Scott Schaeffer.

Declaring a state of emergency allows city officials to enter the creeks to safely undertake fixing the levy and a blown out berm wall. Access to more resources like sandbags would also become available.

"It's affecting a lot of people and it's sad but you can't predict the snow melt," said Wessleius.

For now, businesses and homeowners wait it out, as they wade through water.

City officials said no injuries have been reported by citizens during the flooding. They advise people to keep a safe distance from floodwater and obey road closure signs.

Flooding updates and closed streets are posted to the city's website as well as social media. To reach emergency management call (509) 575-6165.


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