Heavy rain kept crews busy over the weekend

Heavy rainfall kept city staff and emergency responders busy over the weekend tending to requests to clear roads and drainage systems.

Record rainfall soaked much of the greater Puget Sound region, including 4.35 inches on the island, most of which fell Saturday and Sunday morning, according to reports from nonprofit CoCoRaHS, which uses volunteers to measure and map precipitation.

The rain resulted in 27 individual requests for assistance from public works crews. Most of the calls occurred Sunday in the morning and afternoon hours. A crew of 13 public works employees helped control localized flooding, two small landslides, debris removal and clean-up. A 10 a.m. high tide on Sunday complicated the drainage process as the water accumulated with no place to go until the tide withdrew later in the day.

"I'm glad we didn't receive the six inches Bremerton and the south end of the county did, but we were certainly prepared and we had crews out there working," said Lance Newkirk, director of the city's Public Works Department. "We had a total of 13 people out there, which was a sizable crew. We could have called in more personnel if necessary as well."

Newkirk said the situation calmed Sunday night, but he expects crews to continue clearing gravel and debris on roadways where storm drainage made roads impassable and made a mess.

There were two small landslides that led to public works assistance – above Gertie Johnson Road and below Rockaway Beach Road – that called for public works assistance. The city called outside geotechnical expertise to evaluate the stability of the slopes, which found they were stable enough to have crews remove material and secure both areas.

Joel Levin, a resident near the slide at Gertie Johnson Road (just north of Rolling Bay Walk) said he was grateful for the quick response from city staff to assess the situation, clear the road of debris and get residents back into their homes in a timely fashion.

"The city folks who came down jumped into gear and really did a first-rate, professional and thoughtful job to dig the slide out and make the situation clear and safe," said Levin.

Levin and his neighbors stay mindful of storm drains and ditches whenever heavy rainfall is expected in an effort to be proactive. Levin said his area morphed into a raging river after a big land slide in 2006, which led to a meeting with the city and proactive plans to avoid a repeat disaster. Levin and six or seven other neighbors helped clear the storm drains and ditches Sunday morning, but the slide appeared to have been caused by unstable soil due to a fire five years prior.

Levin said he appreciates all the work the city has done, but would like to see a better response to road maintenance in the future.

"I took the day off work today to patch cracks in the road that have existed for some 15 years in some places. I understand they are limited, but I think it's more of the city's job to maintain the roads then a job a private citizen should do," said Levin. "I am glad to partner and volunteer to help, and I understand the financial situation at the city. But I think it's silly I am the one putting in hydraulic cement."

The Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management is collecting any information from homeowners businesses affected by the Dec. 11-12 heavy rain event. The state will use the information to request a disaster declaration for federal disaster assistance, if necessary. The process could potentially cover uninsured losses if certain criteria are met.

No one from Bainbridge has reported any losses yet, according to Kitsap County information officer Susan May. The majority of the reports are coming from Bremerton.

Anyone with damage to report is asked to call 360-307-5871 to speak with an officer. The following information will be needed: name, address of affected property, type of insurance, description of damage and an estimate of uninsured losses.

All are asked to call their insurance agent to check on their damage coverage and to keep detailed records on photos of damage, clean up and repair costs.

Newkirk advises all homeowners and businesses to make sure their gutters and drains are free and clear to prevent future flooding.

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