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It could have been worse

Despite piles of ruined furniture on front lawns, many residents in North Bend's Shamrock Park and Berry Estates neighborhoods felt "the neighbor got it worse than me."

The two neighborhoods - Berry Estates on 125th Street and Shamrock Park on 123rd Street in unincorporated King County near North Bend - were among the areas of the city hit hardest by flooding Nov. 6-7 when more than two feet of flood waters topped the Reif Road levee on the south bank of the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. Emergency officials issued an evacuation notice through the emergency alert system on television and radio, but many didn't get the notice in time to flee.

"We had 8 to 10 inches inside," said Jackie Pettibone of 123rd Street. She was at work when the flooding began, but came home to find the water rising quickly and her husband preparing to leave. "We only had about a half hour. We lost a lot. We didn't have a lot of time to put up the furniture."

The Pettibones put up their important papers and whatever else they could in the little time they had, packed up their recreational vehicle and got out. When they returned Wednesday, it was to smelly, muddy, brown, sewage-saturated carpets, ruined furniture and water.

"Being on a septic tank, it's filthy water," Pettibone said, pointing to brown carpeting in the bedroom.

The couple had already pulled out the living room carpeting and started the process of throwing out ruined furniture and cleaning the floors, but a puddle of water remained in the living room, a dusting of mud in the kitchen and the bedroom carpets were still drenched.

"We went through this in 1990," said Pettibone. "This time we have insurance, but it's just wait, wait, wait. We didn't get it bad, though. The neighbors got it worse."

Laney Johnson's front yard, also on 123rd Street, was already piled with furniture and electrical appliances even as more were being brought out. She and her family didn't stay, either.

"It flooded too bad," said Johnson. "We didn't want the dogs to go through the water."

Johnson, who works nights, was awakened at 1 p.m. by her neighbor to see the water rising quickly, already up to the bottoms of her car doors, which were parked on the street. She and her husband got some things together and called a friend from Wilderness Rim to come pick them up around 3 p.m., she said. They came back Tuesday and borrowed a neighbor's canoe to check the damage in their house.

"It was very bizarre [taking a boat to the house] and wading through freezing cold water," Johnson said. "There were two and a half to three feet of water in the house."

The water's gone now, but it left a dip in the floor of their family room, and appraisers recommended contacting a structural engineer for repairs, but that could take anywhere from six months to a year, she said. They're still staying with friends now, but that can't last for a year. The couple has to throw out almost all of their furniture, only the solid wood made it through. They had just replaced all their appliances before the flood, and all were ruined.

"The flood insurance covers structural," she said. "No content. But a lot of people don't have flood insurance."

"We chose to leave," said Bryan Huber, a resident of North 415th Avenue whose front yard and driveway were piled up with ruined furniture.

Huber, a senior at Mount Si High School, got home from school around 2:45 p.m. to find an inch of water in his basement, then watched the water top the dike, he said. The family raised what they could from the floor, then left the house to avoid high water. They came back on Tuesday and borrowed a neighbor's boat to get to their street before wading through thigh-high water to find 28 inches of water in the house. They have to get rid of a lot of their furniture, but insurance covers some of it. They also have to replace dry wall and carpeting.

"It's nothing new," said Huber. "It's the fifth time it's happened."

Pam Dowling's driveway, a few houses down from the Huber's, was also filling up with furniture. The water reached the top concrete step leading to her house, about two and a half feet, she said. She and her husband stayed in their house during the flood.

"We didn't watch the news to know we were [being] evacuated," Dowling said. They live on the second floor of their house, using the first as an office, playroom and bathroom, so they had electricity, food and heat and were able to stay out of the water. They lost some furniture, but had elevated most of it in time, she said.

"It was unreal," she said. "We raised everything six inches because we thought, last time we didn't get that much." It wasn't enough and later in the evening they raised it higher, wading through mid-thigh level water.

"It was strange to see people coming in and out in boats," she said.

North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing said the area hadn't yet been annexed into the city because of the flood danger. Improvements need to be made to the levy and bridge by King County and the state before the city would assume responsibility for the area, Hearing said. The city is fixing nearby Ribary Creek to reduce flood danger.

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