USACE repairs levees ahead of storm, provides 120,000 sandbags to Western Washington communities

Seattle District
Published Nov. 27, 2021
A construction dump truck and earth mover sit atop the repaired Rainbow Slough levee.

Whatcom County, Wash. (Nov. 27, 2021) - US Army Corps of Engineers closed a breach in the Rainbow Slough Levee caused by flooding from the three successive atmospheric rivers that hit the area from Nov. 12 to Nov. 22.

Water flowing through a breach in Rainbow Slough levee

Whatcom County, Wash. (Nov. 20, 2021) - Rainbow Slough Levee was breached during flooding from the three successive atmospheric rivers that hit the area from Nov. 12 to Nov. 22. The US Army Corps of Engineers closed the breach Nov. 27.

Seattle District, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) emergency operations center and flood teams are gearing up for the next round of round of rain to hit the Pacific Northwest. Flood teams deployed to Whatcom and Skagit counties just before Thanksgiving to help local communities prepare for the current atmospheric river systems.

USACE delivered 120,000 sandbags to flood affected communities over the past two weeks. USACE completed work filling levee breaches caused by last week’s storms in Whatcom County, including Rainbow Slough Levee near Ferndale Road. 

“Army Corps flood engineers are working side-by-side with local and state officials in a race against time to repair as much damage to levees before the next big storm system hits,” said Doug Weber, Seattle District’s chief of emergency management.

The USACE Reservoir Control Center (RCC) is activating to provide 24-hour operations to monitor conditions and respond to forecasted flooding. Last week in the Skagit River Basin, USACE water managers began actively directing operations at Puget Sound Energy-owned Upper Baker Dam and Seattle City Light-owned Ross Dam Nov. 14. USACE operations at these two upper Skagit River dams stored inflows and decreased peak flow by 40 percent, reducing the peak river stage at Concrete, Washington, by more than eight feet and preventing the overtopping of levees in Mount Vernon, Washington.

The Seattle District is supporting the state of Washington, Lummi Tribe and communities within Whatcom, Skagit, and Clallam counties communities with temporary emergency measures. Flood teams are also providing technical assistance and flood fight materials, such as sandbags, to communities throughout Western Washington.

Public Law 84-99 enables the USACE to assist state and local authorities in flood fight activities and cost share in the repair of eligible flood protection structures following a flood event and at the request of a local sponsor. The purpose is to prevent loss of life and minimize property damage associated with severe weather.

Private citizens seeking sandbags should contact their local government offices.

The National Weather Service issues flood watches and warnings and should be consulted for that information.

Andrew S. Muñoz

Release no. 21-015