Residents start assessing flood damage

Sandbags encircle a home east of Omak near the Okanogan River on May 20.

Photo by Al Camp
Sandbags encircle a home east of Omak near the Okanogan River on May 20.

— Residents of Okanogan County have begun drying out and assessing damage caused when the Okanogan River spilled its banks during May.

The river has dropped below flood stage and its level is expected to continue going down, according to the National Weather Service. As of Friday morning, June 1, the level was 12.79 feet, well below the 15-foot flood stage.

Its highest crest this year, at Janis bridge south of Tonasket, was 19.71 feet on May 12. That’s the third-highest level on record, with the highest at 22.54 feet on June 2, 1972, and the second-highest at 21.79 feet on May 31, 1948.

At Malott, the river was at 11.32 feet on Friday, down from a high of 19.32 feet on May 12. The record high was 22.2 feet in 1972.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers reopened the Okanogan River to recreational use on May 29. He had ordered it closed on May 15 because of high water and debris in the river.

“While planning your trip to the river, please remember that there may be some areas (where) the banks were undercut due to the flooding and (that) the river is still flowing swiftly with unseen debris,” he said.

Okanogan County Emergency Management has begun assessing damage caused by flooding, which inundated low-lying areas from Oroville to Malott. Most cities escaped major damage, although seepage led to basement flooding up and down the river and a dike in Okanogan became so saturated that it had to be bolstered with sandbags.

Emergency Manager Maurice Goodall is asking people with damage to fill out a damage assessment form, which can be obtained on the department’s website, Once the firm is filled out, he asks people to email it to or mail it to Department of Emergency Management, 123 N. Fifth Ave. Room 106, Okanogan, WA 98840.

“By filling out this form it will allow Okanogan County Emergency Management and Washington State Emergency Management to assess the need for assistance at the federal level,” he said. “Filling out this form does not guarantee assistance, but will assist in gathering information to find assistance.”

People with agricultural or natural resource losses are asked to report them to the Okanogan Conservation District at

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Services Agency also is asking agricultural producers to record a notice of loss.

“Do this sooner rather than later as there is often a short window to report losses,” the agency said. “This information is needed to request federal financial support for flood damage to crops and fields.

More information is available at 509-422-3292.

Meanwhile, The Economic Alliance is collecting information on businesses that are directly or indirectly affected by flooding.

“We need to collect as much information from them (as possible) on how they are impact and can assist to connect them with disaster programs available for small businesses,” said an Oroville Chamber of Commerce announcement.

A flood damage reporting for businesses is available from The Economic Alliance, 509-826-5107 or It asks whether the business has flood insurance, how many employees it has, what damage it suffered and estimate of financial loss.

Information will be reported to the county Department of Emergency Management.


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