Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation, declared a state of emergency Tuesday night due to a breach in the Taholah seawall and destruction of a smokehouse, other outbuildings and properties in the lower village. The damage was caused by high waves and intense winds. A press release from the Tribe said Sharp is the Chief Executive Officer designated to possess constitutional authority to issue such direction for the Tribe.
President Sharp also issued a voluntary evacuation order in the area and filed a request with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that the portion of Taholah in danger of being flooded and otherwise in danger from this situation be declared a federal disaster area and be made available for disaster support.
Sharp issued an executive order stating that “the dangerous condition continues and that the Taholah seawall is no longer capable of stopping the ocean from advancing into our lower village of Taholah.”
The executive order stated, “Lives as well as property are in imminent danger. A state of emergency exists in the tribal village of Taholah, on the Quinault Reservation.”
President Sharp met with congressional officials, including Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congressmen Derek Kilmer and Dave Reichert as well as officials from the Army Corps earlier this month. “All of these officials were very supportive of our long term plans related to protection of our people from these ongoing dangerous conditions and the funding that will be required to achieve that protection on a permanent basis.”
Temporary mitigation efforts to reinforce the Taholah seawall were taken in January, when the Corps of Engineers placed 800 tons of riprap rock. “It is obvious that Quinault’s coastal defenses desperately require a more permanent fix,” said Sharp.
“We have been experiencing an increasingly dangerous situation with sea level rise and intensified storms. Our people must be protected. We will take whatever measures are necessary to see that they are,” said Sharp.