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10 years after massive floods, Lewis County still waiting on $1 million from FEMA

A washed out bridge caused by record floods in rural Lewis County ends up in the Chehalis River on December 4, 2007.
A washed out bridge caused by record floods in rural Lewis County ends up in the Chehalis River on December 4, 2007. Olympian file photo

Ten years after the largest flood in recorded history hit the Centralia-Chehalis area, Lewis County is still waiting on $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for two bridges that have since been replaced.

According to Lewis County’s public works department, the money will pay for the replacement of the Chandler Road bridge and the Mays bridge, which is upstream from where the flood-destroyed Leudinghaus bridge once spanned the Chehalis River.

County public works director Erik Martin said both of the bridges were completely destroyed in the 2007 flood that was so massive it flooded and closed Interstate 5 through the area. The Chandler Road bridge was replaced in 2010, while the Mays bridge was completed in 2016.

About $575,000 in FEMA funds also are expected for damages sustained in the 2006 flood. And FEMA is still to provide $650,000 for repairs to Logan Hill, Snyder Road and Howe Road caused by 2015 storms, and $480,000 for debris removal for a 2017 storm.

That totals $2,705,000 in outstanding balances the county is waiting to receive from FEMA. There’s also $668,000 more expected for miscellaneous projects after federally declared disasters spanning 2015 to 2017.

According to Martin, funding from FEMA can take a lot of time, so the outstanding balances stretching back to 2006 aren’t completely out of the norm.

“(FEMA) has got priorities they have to sort of shift around all the time,” Martin said. “Obviously with other things going on in the country, they have to work on what’s most urgent at that time. They don’t always get to us very fast, but the good thing is they do eventually get around to us.”

Lewis County currently has eight open federally declared disasters on the books, the oldest of which is the 2006 flood.

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