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2009 Historical Quotes of the Month

Table of Contents


We're big and we're slow and we're expensive, Corps planning officer Amy K. Frantz told Richland County commissioners, the mayors of Shelby and Bellville and Mansfield city representatives. 

(Source: Mansfield News, Mansfield, Ohio,  Solution to flooding in Shelby years away, November 10, 2009)

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In the 1951 flood, there were dikes on either side of Dry Slough, so when the dike broke, it covered just half the Fir Island, Tellesbo said.  This year, with no dikes in the middle of the island, water has covered almost all of it.  On Monday, Dike District 22 commissioners decided to cut a hole in a saltwater dike at the south end of the island in an effort to drain the island.  In 1951, they didn’t need to.  “It came so fast the water broke out at least three sections of dike at the bay,” Tellesbo said.  After the flood in 1951, “It was pretty tough going,”.  We couldn’t put in a crop in at all that year because of the sand, brush, and timber left behind by the flood.

(Source: Skagit Valley Herald “Never seen a river as bad and as high” , November 13, 1990)

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“Fir Island was FORCED to take a lot of other peoples water!"

(Source: Harvey Wolden, Fir Island Dairy Farmer, 10/14/1991 Meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Flood Damage Reduction)

“Don’t develop a project so large it requires a vote of the citizens of Skagit Co -- stay within the limit of the Commissioner’s authority.”

(Source: Harvey Wolden, Skagit County Commissioner, 4/16/1996 Skagit Flood Control & Ecosystem Restoration Study (AKA GI Study) Coordination Meeting Minutes)

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"The problem is not how to keep the water in the channel. The problem is how do we get the water onto the floodplain in a safe manner. Levee failures cause tremendous damage. The solution to flooding is consistent heights on all levees and getting water onto the floodplain."

 (Source: Sky Miller, Snohomish County Engineer, 10/14/1991 Meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Flood Damage Reduction)

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The Skagit County Flood Control Council is definitely opposed to building dikes any higher along the Skagit River, Lloyd Johnson, county flood control coordinator, said today that the group feels such action, because of the built up underlayments of sand, logs and general debris, would only mislead public trust and possibly end in a major break-through by the river at a weak point.  Following the council’s planning session at the courthouse yesterday, Johnson said the organization will not endorse any one of the particular flood control plans, but will vigorously oppose the higher dikes thinking.

(Source:  Skagit Valley Herald, "Higher dikes plan hit by flood group", 1/18/1961)

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JULY 2009

“Currently, the rural area down river from Mount Vernon has from three to fourteen year flood protection.  The Corps proposes to increases protection to the level of a fifty year flood.  It is difficult to construe such a significant increase in flood protection as a means of preserving agricultural land.  Such increased protection would seem to act as a growth stimulant, unless the Corps assumes that development will concentrate in floodplain areas which have 100 year protection, i.e. the “Avon Triangle”.”

(Source:  Robert C. Schofield, Director, Skagit County Planning Department, July 13, 1979 Letter to Army Corps of Engineers RE: Draft Environmental Impact Statement - Skagit River Lower Levee and Channel Improvement Project)

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JUNE 2009

Our point is that we are stuck.  There’s not enough money out there.  We’ve got 11,600 flood prone communities out there.  Skagit Valley is not the most important one.  So they’re reluctant to spend any more money.  Compared to the Mississippi the rest of us are peanuts.

(Source:  Herb McElvaine, FEMA, April 5, 1984 Transcript of Skagit County Planning Dept. Meeting with FEMA, DOE & Burlington addressing Flood Insurance Study and Gages Slough maintenance problems)

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MAY 2009

Many “newcomers” to the county don’t realize the extent to which the Skagit River can flood, Commissioner Howard Miller said.  “The only thing that will get support (for flood control) is if we have a major flood,” Miller said. “Then people will become aware of the problem again.”

(Source: Skagit Valley Herald, "Flood Experts Eye New Measures" by Laurie Dunham, 11/21/1979)

“FEMA needs things to insure. By perpetuating the problem, it perpetuates itself. Don't you just love bureaucracy?” 

(Source: Citizen Jim, Lewis County Resident, 4/28/2009)

“Part of the problem with the Corps process thus far is that there’s been various iterations of [hydrologic] modeling and whatnot that’s been done with that type of reporting and what that modeling is. We might want to push forward and remainder of this year and beginning of next year is that we finish… we stop the analysis, er, the paralysis of analysis. Okay, these are the figures we’re going to be using and so there should be some more clarification on that side of your issue.” 

(Amy Gibbons, project manager, Corps of Engineers, April 20, 2009)

AC Note: No truer words have ever been spoken with respect to the Skagit River flood issue.

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APRIL 2009

"After the flooding, an avenue of money comes in that's unreal," Hamilton Mayor Tim Bates said. ... Bates says he doesn't think all the flood insurance money intended for home repairs gets spent that way. It's like an insurance payoff after a car accident, he says. You can spend all the money getting that dent fixed or you can keep the money and the dent. But don't expect the insurance company to pay for further repairs if the dent was never fixed.  Bates thinks that happens in Hamilton often - people make minor repairs and then keep the balance of their insurance settlements.  I've seen people living off insurance money here for years. But it's none of my business, he said. It's their money.

(Source: Skagit Valley Herald, "Flood of Money" by Peter Kelley, 11/11/1996)

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MARCH 2009

Proposition 2, a $14 million bond issue to finance the local share of the project, was soundly defeated by a 71.4 “no” vote.  . . .  Mount Vernon, which would receive protection from floods with a 1-in-500-year chance of occurrence, voted against the project by a 68.3 percent vote.  And although Burlington would receive 100-year flood level protection from the project, voters there rejected the proposition by a 65.9 percent vote.  . . .  Bud Norris, chairman of the Skagit County Board of Commissioners, said today the county would have to take a second look at the plan and examine alternatives.  He said he is hesitant to push the present plan further because of the overwhelming mandate.  “We’ll have to reassess our flood control philosophy and talk with a lot of people involved in the formulation of the plan to see where to go from here,” he said.

(Source: Skagit Valley Herald, "Decisive defeat at polls: Flood control future unclear" by Laurie Dunham, 11/7/1979)

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“Possible means of flood preservation would be: (a) Storage or detention reservoirs on the upper portion of the river or on the tributaries; (b) revision or reconstruction of the present diking system according to a properly designed plan; (c) a system of emergency dikes built back of the present ones; (d) construction of an outlet or relief channel above the Great Northern Railway bridge running to Padilla Bay; (e) straightening, widening, and deepening the channel of the present river bed with proper bank protection; (f) digging an entire new channel or channels through the delta with necessary bank protection; (g) enlargement of channel way at bridges; (h) removal of drift and construction of drift barriers; or some combination of these methods.”

(Source: Corps of Engineers Skagit River Report to the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors by US Army Major Jno. S. Butler, 5/1/1928, page 14)

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“It appears to me that the flooding and landslide problems (from) this December storm stem from the combination of an unusually large storm and decades of risky behavior both in upland forestry practices and downstream floodplain development.”

(Source: University of Washington geologist David Montgomery, quoted in testimony before Washington State Legislature, KING-5 and Associated Press, "WA Senate committee hears testimony on flood factors", 1/10/2008)

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