Improvement money relieves Orting flood fears

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 9, 2013 at 10:26 PM

ORTING, Wash. -- After years of flooding concerns, the City of Orting will receive up to $18 million to repair a 1.5 mile stretch of nearby broken levee.

A crowd full of Orting residents was ecstatic as the Pierce County Flood Control Board approved the funds Wednesday afternoon.

In 2006, the Calistoga Levee broke causing the Puyallup and Carbon rivers to overflow and forcing many in the community to evacuate.

“You looked outside and there was this river going down the street. It was fast and flowing, we decided to take off right then and there,” said Amy Harris, a resident.

The problem has caused several scares since then, wreaking havoc on homes, businesses and infrastructure.

“The financial impact is in the millions,” said Ken Wolfe, City Building Official.

Hearing the community’s concern, the Pierce County Flood Control District approved up to $9 million to fix the levee. The funds are the first-ever allocated by the organization since it formed last year.

“That is terrific news, I’m excited,” said Harris.

City officials plan to put in a flood gate, reconnect an old flood channel and add an axis road.

The improvements will be paid for by a property tax, a cost of up to $25 for Pierce County residents each year. Orting officials raised the other half of the money with grants and loans.

“It’s been a lot of years of work,” said Wolfe.

After nearly eight years of worrying Harris says news of improvements is peace of mind.

“Maybe someday we won’t have to take out flood insurance anymore because it’s not going to flood,” said Harris.

The levee work is expected to begin in January and take less than a year.

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