Yelm community worried about Deschutes River flooding



Posted on February 17, 2014 at 6:38 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 17 at 8:33 PM

YELM, Wash. -- Parts of Pierce and Thurston County experienced flood concerns Monday, especially along the Deschutes River where water levels crested to 11.3 feet.

In the Driftwood Valley community outside Yelm, rising river levels submerged the only access road for 50 homes under three feet of water.

“This was not expected,” said Dale Howard, a resident.

The isolation was especially troubling for Howard, who started feeling the symptoms of a stroke early Monday. He’s experienced three incidents so far, the most recent in June.

“I have a history of strokes and this morning I began to experience some speech problems,” he said.

At the time, Howard says the river was impassible and knew emergency responders couldn’t get to him.

“I was having a medical issue and it was acting up, I was scared,” he said.

Shawn Watts, one of Howard’s neighbors, has lived in the community for about ten years.

“You’ll fall asleep with the rain going on and you think you’ll be alright but you wake up in the morning and you find out you’re not getting to work,” he said.

Dealing with effects of heavy rain before, Watts knows the importance of preparation in case his family is stuck at home.

“Just keep your shelves stocked full of food, make sure you have plenty of water and supplies at all times,” said Watts.

With a flood warning in effect through the night, Howard plans to stock up on his stroke medicine and if conditions get really bad, find another place to stay.

“It’s a beautiful place, tough to leave,” he said.