Local News

Commissioner Franz Dispatches Work Crews to Help Okanogan County Deal with Flooding

May 13, 2018

This morning, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assumed command of flood response in Okanogan County and more than 100 DNR firefighters arrived to assist with flood control.

“When any Washingtonian is threatened, we must all heed the call,” said Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands. “I want the families affected by the flooding to know that we stand with them and we will do everything we can to help.”

Yesterday, the Governor declared a state of emergency in Okanogan and other eastern Washington counties after rapidly melting snowpack and rain caused the Okanogan River to flood. Dozens of families in Okanogan Count have been evacuated.

A DNR Interagency Incident Management Team (Type 3) will now lead flood response efforts in Okanogan County, in close partnership with the county and the state’s Emergency Management Division,

In addition to the Incident Management Team, 10 10-person firefighting crews were deployed from DNR’s correctional camps program. Although the primary role of DNR camp crews is fire suppression, they are also trained to respond to hazards such as flooding.

DNR crews will fill and place sandbags and work to divert water flow by constructing and reinforcing water-channeling infrastructure.

“This type of operation is a great example of the range of skills DNR firefighters contribute to the residents of our state,” said Aaron Schmidt, DNR's Fire and Emergency Response Operations Manager. “Although we are currently suppressing some smaller wildfires, we also have the ability to assist with flood response.”


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