King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Flood Control District Chair Julia Patterson Friday expressed disappointment at a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deny reimbursement for work done to protect the people of the Green River Valley from the flood threat posed by the federal Howard Hanson Dam.
FEMA’s denial was the second and final stop in the federal appeal process.
“This disappointing outcome comes despite the mountain of evidence painstakingly assembled over the past two years to support our appeal, and the lengths so many of us went to – individually and collaboratively – to make our case to FEMA,” wrote Constantine and County Council Chairman Larry Gossett.
Had FEMA provided reimbursement, the County General Fund would have had about $2 million more per year over the next eight years to meet public safety and human services priorities.
Patterson said the denial of reimbursement is a blow to the Flood Control District’s capital program for fixing aging and substandard levees.
“Reimbursement money would have allowed the Flood District to restore local funds that were taken away from other critical levee projects to pay for the giant sandbags needed to protect the Green River Valley. This denial means we will have to delay priority levee projects needed to protect people, farms, and structures from flooding,” Patterson said in a county news release.
King County and the King County Flood Control District spent more than $24 million on work to shore up levees, relocate critical services, and fortify buildings after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a dramatically elevated risk of catastrophic flooding, following a storm in January of 2009 that weakened the integrity of the Howard Hanson Dam in southeast King County. The cities of Auburn, Kent, Renton and Tukwila spent millions more.