Area rivers have shrunken back into their banks, but saturated soil, particularly in Lewis County’s east end and Mount Rainier National Park, is continuing to lead to mudslides and washed out roads.
County officials continue to breathe a sigh of relief following this weekend’s less-than-anticipated flood turnout. Lewis County Public Works Director Josh Metcalf said in Monday’s Lewis County Board of County Commissioners meeting that the actual water levels throughout the county were lower than the initial projections.
“We actually fared pretty well,” Metcalf said. “We didn’t get as much water as originally predicted, so that worked to our advantage. We had a little bit of damage in the east part of the county, but for the most part, things came out pretty well.”
As far as potential landslides dangers go, Metcalf added that as of Monday morning, none of the county roads have had to be shut down.
“We have a couple of areas that we’re monitoring on Logan Hill but nothing that’s impacted the county roads specifically,” he said.
However, The National Park Service reported this weekend that saturated soil from weeks of heavy rain led to mudslides damaging roads outside Mount Rainier National Park, including state Route 706, resulting in the closure of all roads leading into the park.
State Route 706 near the park is closed due to a landslide, according to a post on social media from the Washington State Department of Transportation.
“A WSDOT geotechnical engineer found an extremely unstable slope above SR 706,” the post reads. “The continuing slide remains too dangerous to remove. Water is still actively flowing across the highway. The highway has hundreds of yards of debris that is at least several feet deep.”
The park’s main Nisqually entrance road has also reportedly likely sustained damage near Sunshine point, where a flood washed out the road in 2006.
Access to the Carbon River area is also blocked due to a washout, state Route 410 is blocked by four mudslides and the Fairfax Forest Reserve Road will need a “long-term closure,” according to the park service.
There is also no access to Paradise or the Longmire Historic Landmark District, according to the NPS.
“Park staff are working around-the-clock, and in close partnership with the Rainier Guest Services team and state and local officials to protect life, health, and safety of residents, visitors, and employees first- and protecting critical infrastructure related to our nationally-significant buildings and roads, second,” said Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout, in a news release.
Park service staff on SAturday cleared an emergency access route to evacuate guests at the National Park Inn and staff members from Longmire.
On Friday and Saturday, Park Service staff worked with Pierce County crews to support to voluntary evacuation of Ashford, the NPS reported.
Flooding over the weekend threatened historic structures as well as roads, the park service reported.
“Continued flooding within park boundaries is causing damage to roads, trails and historic structures including the National Park Inn and other nationally-significant buildings within the Longmire National Historic Landmark District. Several buildings in Longmire have lost critical systems as sump pumps have been unable to keep up with water intrusion,” according to an NPS news release.
On Monday morning, the WSDOT reported a landslide on state Route 508 near Bear Canyon in the Cinebar area had been cleared.
The landslide had blocked both sides of the road with mud and debris, and occurred around Friday afternoon.