River levees through Kent hold strong during flooding

Levees along the Green River in Kent appeared to have held up fine, despite the heavy rain that pummeled the city and Western Washington last week.

“We haven’t had indications of any problems or failures of any levees in the city,” said Mike Mactutis, city environmental engineering manager, in a phone interview Friday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed an $8.7 million project last fall to repair the Kent Shops, Narita and Myer’s Golf levees on the river near the Riverbend Golf Course on West Meeker Street. The levees sustained damage during the November 2006 flood.

City officials monitor the levees 24 hours a day during heavy rain. Mactutis inspected the levees by the golf course on Thursday.

“There was no indication of any problems with them,” he said.

While Army Corps crews were kept busy last week with emergency-levee repairs along the Snohomish, Nooksack and other rivers in the region, the Corps received no reports from city or county officials for assistance with any levee issues on the Green River.

“The good thing is they held up during the flood event,” said Andrea Takash, spokeswoman for the Seattle division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineeers.

In addition to the levees, the Army Corps also controls flooding along the Green River by holding back water at the Howard Hanson Dam, northeast of Enumclaw. The Corps built the dam in the early 1960s to help prevent flooding in the Green River valley.

When Corps officials started to release more water Friday from behind the dam, the Green River reached within about 2 feet of flood stage.

The high flow of water along the river kept city officials on edge.

“It makes us nervous when there’s that much water in the river,” Mactutis said. “In some areas of the city, the water flows as much as 6 to 10 feet higher than the ground next to the levee. But so far, they’ve done fine.”

King County officials plans to visit the repaired levees near the Riverbend Golf Course as soon as water levels recede to assess any damage that might have been done. But the river is expected to remain high for at least a few days, as Corps officials release water to lower the reservoir behind the dam.

“The recent repair sites will be among the first we visit,” said Doug Williams, spokesman for the county’s Natural Resources and Parks division. “We’ll get a good look when the water recedes.”

City and county officials will look for cracks or other movement at the levees as well as any seepage out of the back of a levee, Mactutis said.

“The water just started receding,” Takash said. “Until the water goes down, there’s no way to determine the damage. Once the water goes down, we’ll assess it and repair any damage. If there’s erosion, we’ll fix it.”

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