King tide, storm pressure and 2-4 foot waves caused flooding in south Birch Bay January 7 that left The Bridge Community Hope Center building with a foot of standing water to drain.
John Gargett, emergency management director for Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO), said the combination of an expected 10-foot king tide and storm surge pushed the tide up to 12 feet last Friday. With the addition of 2-4 foot waves and 40 mph winds, residents on south Birch Bay Drive experienced damage from flooding and thrown beach debris, he said.
Emergency management crews closed Birch Bay Drive from Alderson Road through Birch Bay State Park as water broke over the seawall on the south side of the bay and backed up Terrell Creek, flooding the area.
Rosemary Connors of The Bridge Community Hope Center, at 4815 Alderson Road, said in an email to The Northern Light that 12 inches of water poured into the building last Friday, interrupting the Bridge’s food distribution. North Whatcom Fire and Rescue firefighters assisted volunteers in draining the building. Connors said this is the fourth flood the building has experienced in the past 12 months.
Gargett said a few residents reported flooding inside their houses. Others were unable to leave their homes until the water receded, he said, and many homes on the bay had damage to the sea-facing side of the house. “One had a log come through the window,” he said.
North of Alderson Road, Birch Bay was left mostly unscathed. The berm’s 14-foot coverage protected Birch Bay Drive as it’s designed to and the waves did not make it over, Gargett said. However, the beach along the berm accumulated plenty of logs and driftwood.
Crews reopened Birch Bay Drive north of the state park Saturday. As of January 10, Gargett said the road will remain closed through the park until crews can clean beach debris and repair eroded parts of the road. Waves eroded two areas of Birch Bay Drive up to the fog line.
Gargett did not have a damage estimate yet.
Drayton Harbor’s south shoreline also experienced some erosion from wave action last week that left Drayton Harbor Road between Blaine and Harborview roads in need of stabilization. Waves broke over the shoreline onto Drayton Harbor Road, leaving standing water and beach debris on the road.
Whatcom County Public Works is continuing to monitor the road and may need to close the road if conditions worsen, spokesperson Marie Duckworth said. There is no weight limit or repair date at this time. Crews have placed traffic barricades along the road in places where the shoreline was undercut.
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