City has a plan if Tieton Dam breaks and floods most of Yakima
YAKIMA, Wash.- "At some point, it's just going to go and we would have that massive wall of water."
Charles Erwin is Yakima’s emergency management specialist and said the city has prepared for the possibility of the Tieton Dam breaking.
They've worked with the Bureau of Land Management to see how much time it would take the water to get here and how much of the city would flood.
The water at Rimrock Lake is pretty low right now, but the city is planning for a worst-case scenario so if it does fill all the way up, it that makes the Tieton Dam that much more important.
Because if it breaks, it's not a matter of if it'll reach Yakima, but a matter of when.
Yakima would have around two and a half hours, while towns like Naches would only have a little more than an hour before water reaches them.
This gives emergency responders just enough time to start getting people to safety until the rest of the water gets here.
"Within six hours when the major wave got there we would have catastrophic flooding," Erwin said.
Here is eastern Yakima and they project water coming in as far as first street from the river.
The city would activate its emergency management center to have police, firefighters and other emergency responders all on the same page.
Jeff Pfaff with the Yakima Fire Department says floods create even more problems than fires because flames usually run out of things to burn, but floods are a different story.
“You don't know where it's going to go and if you try to stop something at one location, it can have cause and effect things to go in another direction,” he said.
Erwin said the city's primary goal would be getting everyone near the rivers to safety and then worry about the infrastructure.
After the water goes down, the city would list damage as minor, major and severe to see where they would start the recovery process.