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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane County’s damage from flooding may reach $1 million

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 24, 2017

The cost of repairing flood-damaged roads in Spokane County may climb to $1 million – far more than previously predicted.

County officials declared a state of emergency on Feb. 16 as heavy rain and melting snow washed out roads and caused mudslides across Washington. At the time, officials estimated the total cost of the damage would be several hundred thousand dollars.

“To make all the repairs that will need to be made down the road, we may be looking at nearly $1 million,” said county spokeswoman Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter.

The emergency declaration has been lifted, allowing the county to tally its costs and apply for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The county’s $64 million budget for road work doesn’t include emergency funding, said assistant county engineer Chad Coles.

If the county doesn’t receive enough federal funding, “we’ll just pull it from some other work that we have to do,” Coles said. “And, unfortunately, that often means pavement preservation.”

Potholes will still get filled, Coles said, but more intensive projects such as chip sealing may have to wait. And that means pavement will be more expensive to maintain.

Coles said county officials have considered creating a segregated emergency fund, but they prefer having more options.

“We don’t spend every cent we have, so there’s some flexibility,” he said. “It’s not like we’re cutting it too close.”

The county has spent about $200,000 to repair rural roads, ditches and culverts. That figure includes significant overtime pay for county road workers.

At least 32 sections of road have been closed due to the flooding. Most have been reopened as the water recedes, but some damage likely remains hidden underwater, Coles said.

Crews will truck in additional soil, gravel and rock to strengthen roads, and work upstream of the damaged sections to prevent the same problems from happening later, Coles said. They hope to finish the repairs by April or May.

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