Guest Commentary: Memories of 2007 Flood Fuel Hopes for Future in Adna

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Adna is a small, rural town, 126 years old, located just 6 miles west of Interstate 5. 

It lies in the valley and hills along the Chehalis River. Our community shows a fierce dedication to our school district, children and each other. And we, as a community, become especially vigilant during the winter months.

Residents of this valley start to become wary every year as the rainy season approaches. This is because each and every one of us has been impacted by the occasional giant floods that have hit starting in 1990. 

Now, whenever we see rising water, we remember the horrible scenes from the floods in 2007, 1996 and 1990. These floods had been triggered by tropical storms.

In 2007, a huge tropical storm system came in from the coast and landed over the Chehalis River in the Willipa Hills for an extended period of time. The storm circled in place and wreaked havoc on the Chehalis Valley. The Adna dike broke under the strain, stranding families in their homes and cutting off our access to jobs, school, medical services and each other. Floodwater hit the Adna High School.

Third-grader Taylor Nelson reported, “As the floodwater began to rise, my grandfather jumped on his jet ski to help others. My grandfather helped some people who were in a car, people who were on their house. Their house was ruined in the flood.”

The devastation was immense. Several homes on our historic Dikeman Road were washed away in the flooding. In all, 17 homes were condemned. There was enormous loss of property and livestock all around the region. Farmers lost equipment as well as animals, and entire family historical records were wiped out. Prized family possessions turned up downstream much later ruined.

Adna is resilient. We came together to help our flooded neighbors. We donated equipment, sweat, time and support. We joined forces to clean up properties, help people find shelter and restore structures that were salvageable.

Beyond property loss and immediate risk of life, the flood left lasting harm to our children and families. For years in the Adna School District, our counselors saw that extreme rainfall events triggered a rise in counsellor visits from children who were traumatized by flooding and living in fear of a repeat.

Our community understands that the proposed water retention facility will not protect everyone from future giant floods. But we know that lowering the peak of the huge flood by storing 65,000 acre feet of flood water above Pe Ell would have prevented much of the devastation we experienced.

As Mrs. Jennifer Humphrey, first grade teacher at Adna Elementary, so aptly stated in the book “This Flood Happened…”

“We were all flooded.

Flooded with waves of emotion

Flooded with concern, worry and fear

Flooded with sadness and despair

Flooded with kindness, support and generosity

Flooded with gratitude

And washed with hope

We were all flooded”

•••

Shanda Veatch teaches at Adna Middle High School. She was among those flooded out in 2007.

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