SEATTLE – People living in the Green River Valley may be able to sleep a little easier this coming flood season.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced that repairs to the weakened Howard Hanson Dam are nearly complete and the dam will operate at full flood storage capacity, according to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
"This is such great news for local families and business owners who have had to worry about the increased risk of flooding in their communities,” said Murray.
Damage to the dam was found following the 2009 January storms, when engineers had to hold back record amounts of water. The Army Corps has steadily been working to repair the damage.
The last two winters, residents living downstream along the Green River have kept a close eye on the water level, learned evacuation routes and stockpiled sandbags just in case.
The Green River Valley is also home to business that employ thousands of people, including Boeing and Southcenter. A major flood could have meant a devastating hit on the local economy. Many of those businesses have surrounded their buildings with sandbags and other flood control measures since late 2009.
Large sandbags have been lined up along the river for nearly two years. Although they serve as added protection, they are also an eyesore to people who like to walk, jog or bike along the river. Officials say those bags will stay in place, at least this winter.
News of the repairs comes just in time. Forecasters are predicting La Nina will continue this winter, meaning wetter conditions for Western Washington.