The Cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam hosted an open house Tuesday night to discuss the North Shore Levee Project. Planner Mike Stringer said the final goal of a system of dikes, floodwalls, raised roadways, and pump stations would provide comprehensive flood protection and flood insurance relief to homeowners from the East shore of the Hoquiam River, to West shore of the Wishkah.

The planner for Maul Foster & Alongi, Inc told a crowd of over 40 Tuesday night that they don’t know exactly where it’s going to be built yet. “But we don’t have an alignment, we don’t have a design yet. So, this is actually a great place to have input. What should be the key concerns about where that alignment should go, and there’s not a preferred alignment yet so there’s still lots of options. But that also means that we still have lots of questions.”

Since spring of this year, consultants have been collecting data, and now begin the process to decide where and how the new levee would be built.

Modeled after the levee in South Aberdeen, the North Shore Levee will need to be at minimum 14.3 feet above sea level, the base flood elevation. It also requires access and buffer zones in order to be certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

While city administrators were not ready to have the discussion on property acquisitions or easements yet, Mark Steepy, Engineer with the consulting firm KPFF said that “Those are conversations that we still need to have with property owners that have sliding glass doors that open right on the river, I mean that’s a very difficult challenge to overcome. But we need to have those conversations to see what else can be done to provide mitigation and address their concerns.” Steepy was addressing a landowner who spoke out saying that his property was right on the river, and he didn’t see room for a levee when he looks out his sliding glass door.

Very rudimentary designs included a levee down Market Street, Steepy explained at one of the landowner-specific meetings earlier that day that the FEMA approved design supported openings at intersections with a modular wall that city employees could put in place during high water events.

Since the path of the levee hasn’t been fully mapped out, homeowners who may be affected are still part of the conversation. Once the path is determined the city will begin talking more seriously with specific property owners.

The consultants’ work so far has been funded by the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority, when the report is complete the cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam hope to find grants to fund the planning stages.

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