Former mayor of Pacific helps hurricane victims

The former mayor of Pacific, Washington is now living in Texas and helping relief efforts there.

A former Washington mayor well-accustomed to floods is now living in Texas, helping at a shelter in San Antonio.

"This is going to be a very very expensive storm," Rich Hildreth said.

Hildreth remembers another expensive flood in his old Washington town of Pacific back in 2009. He blamed the Army Corps of Engineers for letting too much water out of the Mud Mountain Dam. Some homes faced 10 feet of water.

"It caught people off guard. I think that's probably one big comparison with this storm," he said.

Pacific is an area prone to flooding, and like Houston, is an area where drainage infrastructure is easily overwhelmed.

"We have people living in very vulnerable areas. Here it's near the rivers or the bottom of slopes. We have a large amount of population that's in dangerous areas if we have extreme precipitation, which we will have eventually," said UW Atmospheric Sciences Professor Cliff Mass.

Mass says the Pacific Northwest will never experience hurricanes since ocean water temperatures are too cold. However, he and many other scientists believe the region will face increasingly heavy rainfall and more often.

"One of the key things is resilience. We have to make sure our society and infrastructure is resilient to extreme weather. We're not even resilient to the extreme weather today. What about tomorrow when things get even more out of hand?" Mass said.

Hildreth pursued a master's degree in emergency management and says local leaders need to focus on three key areas.

"The first is fiscal mitigation whether it be levee setbacks, whether it be elevating housing and buildings or creating additional flood paths," he said.

The other two: creating policy to better plan for disasters while training communities to be prepared. 

© 2017 KING-TV


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