Flood News

Major Green River flood could stall deliveries everywhere

While the impacts of a potential Green River flood this winter are obvious to the businesses located in the path of the water, the flooding to the West Coast’s second-largest warehouse and distribution center could have far-reaching effects.

“Certainly it’s going to have a huge impact on the economy,” said Nancy Hinthorne, Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “People not even in the flood area are going to lose their service.”

Because the area is such a large distribution hub, many of the businesses may be delayed in shipping products around the country, should there be a flood.

But the impact could be greater than that because of potential lost revenues to the state.

According to Mike Gowrylow, a spokesperson at the state Department of Revenue, there are no hard numbers on exactly what those impacts could be, but Gowrylow said King County accounts for 40 percent of the state’s tax base.

Arun Raha, chief economist for the State of Washington, said his office has put a report on the economic impacts of a flood in the area on the back burner because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently reduced the area’s flood risk to 1 in 25 (1 in 32, including the levee enhancements), but agreed that the impacts would be great.

“That area is the industrial heartland of the state,” Raha said.

A 2007 study conducted by the county indicated that a shutdown of King County’s flood plains, which includes the Green River, as well as the White, Cedar, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and South Fork Skykomish rivers, could result in a loss of $46 million every day. The report calls the estimate “conservative.”

In total, one-fifth of King County’s manufacturing employment lies in the floodplain, primarily in the Green River Valley cities of Kent, Auburn and Renton. About 30 percent of the county’s aerospace jobs are in the floodplain, according to the study.

Read the 2007 report The Connection between Floodplains and the Economy.

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