It has been announced by President Obama that his government are now officially considering the December floods that occurred in the state of Washington a natural disaster, making them now applicable for federal disaster aid to support the clean up and restoration process there.
The severe weather conditions over the last few weeks of 2015 created flooding on an unprecedented scale, destroying homes, businesses, and livelihoods, and forcing many people and families to abandon their homes for fear of being cut off completely. The evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people meant that many safety stations had to be set up in nearby schools and hospitals, providing safety for those fleeing the waters. It is believed that ten counties at least will be accessing the financial aid to help their local communities.
As well as flooding, the areas of Oregon and Washington have suffered from landslides and tornadoes which have cut off many people from support and help, and forcing emergencies services to risk dangerous rescues in order to prevent further harm. It is believed at this time that two people were killed in Oregon. Much of the rescue work and repairs that now need to be carried out will be very expensive, especially as much of the debris that has been deposited in areas will have to be removed before any hope of repairing the damage can be realised.
Governor Jay Inslee of Washington has announced a state of emergency, following what he described in his own words as ‘days of hazardous weather with landslides closing major highways, high winds knocking out power to thousands, and rainfall causing wide-spread flooding of roadways, homes and property’. It is believed that funds will be able to start helping people in the affected areas very soon.
The increase in severe weather that we have experienced over the last few months starting with the tornadoes on Groundhog Day mean that there are increasing concerns that flash flooding and landslides will start to become the norm over in the eastern parts of the country.
A large number of tornado reports have come over in the last few days, and almost all of them have originated from the same supercell thunderstorm over a period of two to three hours over from the northwest of Alabama. At this point, the exact number of tornadoes has not been confirmed, but the sheer number of them have overwhelmed quite a few people who have not seen such drastic weather patterns in a long time. One of the most serious ones occurred in the northern side of McMullen in Alabama, destroying thirteen homes completely and leaving a huge amount of damage and destruction in its wake.
It is thought by some experts that the number of tornadoes within this group of the last few days could even exceed twelve, a huge number for such a small area. There have been so many that some weather experts are calling it a ‘wedge’, which is a specialist meteorologist term for a very wide tornado that can be experienced as several tornadoes by different areas.
A number of reports have started to come in of the damage that those tornadoes have wreaked on the local populations, with many more expected to come in once the flash flooding that is being warned starts to occur. For example, a church and several barns have suffered from structural damage in Collinsville in Mississippi, and the same tornado that caused that damage is also being named as responsible for bringing trees down, damaging homes, and even destroying power poles leaving many without electricity in the local area.
Some areas are already experiencing the flash flooding that many are considering to be inevitable, such as in the southern Appalachians. For example, Asheville in North Carolina have several streets that have had to be closed because they have been flooded too badly, and in some areas some people had to be rescued from their homes because they become completely cut off. The rescue efforts are continuously being hampered by the fact that many roads are being closed or at least partially impassable because of the flash flooding. Many people who have been evacuated from their homes have found it difficult to reach their evacuation safe points due to the flooding.
The Storm Prediction Center has issued warnings for the next few days, leading many people to fear that the worst is not yet over. For those who have already suffered a huge amount, it is a frightening thought that their homes and families may continue to be in danger, and for those who had hoped that they had avoided any damage, they will have to continue waiting to see whether or not they are going to be able to weather the storm. In previous cases like this, Taylor Trogdon, National Weather Service meteorologist, has discovered that after the Storm Prediction Center has issued similar warnings in the past, there have followed a series of tornadoes that either come individually or in swarms.
More warnings of flash floods are being given to the east as the consequences of the last few days worth of weather start to make their way downstream. There are also fears that flash flooding could continue to hamper the rescue efforts of those trying to reach those who are vulnerable in the local area.
Yoni from the Orange Restoration San Diego team interviewed about a local fire damaged building by Channel 5 News.
Forced evacuation and closure were the consequences of some extreme flooding in Yakima recently, as businesses were faced with no choice but to close up thanks to the water damage.
The water started slowly, according to most business owners, but by 5:30 pm yesterday it started to come in fast, leaving some business owners no choice but to close up shop due to safety concerns. In many cases, however, the flood water did not actually make it into the businesses themselves, leaving many of their owners relieved. “We were fortunate that water didn’t come into the building,” said Kye Kim, the owner of New York Teriyaki. “It filled up our crawl space and just barely came in the front door, but we were able to sand bag and keep water form coming in.”
Other people were not so lucky. The flood waters that came in can do a huge amount of damage in a very short about of time, and many people have already started to discuss the length of time and cost that it will take in order to repair the flood damage and get their businesses open once more. Kye Kim, thankfully, has the support of his family and of his church. Many of its members have been helping him out with the clean up operation, but Kye Kim has already assessed potential damage to his freezer and even potentially his cooler.
Although some believe that it would have been more beneficial for officials to have responded more quickly, many of the business are now already open, and it is hoped that it will not take Kye Kim to do the same – especially as the closure and water damage combined is estimated by experts to have cost him around $3000.