Washington state

YAKIMA: Governor warns no federal aid for landslide victims

As road crews race to build a detour around the massive Nile Valley landslide, Gov. Chris Gregoire warned today that federal disaster assistance will not help people who lost their homes – or may yet lose their homes.

“We need some help here,” she said during a tour of the area. “Right now I don’t see where it’s coming from.”

Six days after the massive landslide took out State Route 410 and rechanneled the Naches River across the flood plain, Gregoire and a host of state officials toured the site by helicopter and then by car.

Only the morning flyover was part of the original plan. But after seeing the massive slide from the air, Gregoire decided she needed to see the damage – and the repair effort – up close and on foot.

Throughout the tour, local officials stressed that some 600 homes and businesses in the Nile Valley remain at risk of being cut off from the outside world due to a combination of flooding and snowy winter weather.

Road crews so far have been able to keep the valley connected by building up the Nile Road, which runs parallel to the Naches River and provides a bypass around the damaged portion of SR 410.

But officials warn the road will not survive seasonal flooding that is just weeks away. The answer is to build a new section of Nile Road that will detour the flood plain to the south.

“We have 30 days,” said Yakima County Public Works Director Vern Redifer.

Herald-Republic (Yakima)