Breaking News
More () »

La Conner declares state of emergency after severe flooding

City officials report at least 14 homes and businesses were damaged in the town of less than 1,000.

LA CONNER, Wash. — City officials in the small Skagit County town of La Conner declared a state of emergency on Wednesday after weeks of rain, melting snow and a higher-than-predicted king tide caused water to flood the streets.

On Wednesday, family members worked to salvage what they could from Sandy Stokes' home -- including the brand new TV she had just gotten for Christmas from her grandson.

"We were actually watching television when we got the call there was water coming," she said.

Ten inches of water flooded Stokes' home. At one point, she had to start pumping it out a bathroom window before evacuating.

"We're alive. We're good. Everything is good. Nobody drowned. Nobody was hurt," she said.

Cellphone video showed water gushing from the swollen Swinomish Channel
and into the kitchen at Nell Thorn restaurant downtown.

A handful of other businesses remained closed on Wednesday as they tried to dry out.

Locals said this is the first serious flooding La Conner has seen since 1992.

As he cleaned his flood-soaked garage, homeowner Jim Itter said the situation seemed to catch the city off guard.

"It seemed like they were a little lost when they got out here. They didn't block the roads off so people were driving by with their trucks and waves were flowing in all over into our buildings," he said.

The king tide crested about 2 feet higher than initially predicted Tuesday, throwing communities all across Puget Sound into desperation mode.

As far as what can be done to protect the quaint town of La Conner and its 100-year-old buildings from another flood, city officials say they aren't sure.

"Raising those buildings is not really a feasible option," said Town Administrator Scott Thomas. "Building a wall to protect the city is probably something we're not going to be able to do."

As he sifted through an entire garage filled with waterlogged tools, keepsakes and family photos, Stuart Welch said he considers himself one of the lucky ones.

"The water got to within 1 inch of coming in the house," he said. "I do feel pretty fortunate."

City leaders hope the emergency declaration will help bring them state and potentially federal funds to alleviate some of the flood problems.

Before You Leave, Check This Out