SHAFAQNA – An estimated 10 homes were damaged or destroyed and highways were blocked as heavy rains unleashed mudslides in an area of north-central Washington where hillsides have been left barren by wildfires. More thunderstorms had been forecast for Friday but serious rain failed to materialize and a new flash flood watch was allowed to expire. Damage to homes from the Thursday evening storms included mud, rushing water and the powerful force of the two together. Resident Janie Lewis told The Seattle Times that a cascade of mud and water blew open her door, knocking down her husband and depositing several feet of mud in their house. They were unhurt. “The ‘river’ was running through the house,” she said. “We’re lucky to be alive.” More than 40 people showed up unannounced Friday to help them dig out, she said. Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said he believes a couple of the 10 homes were destroyed, a few were knocked off their foundations, many suffered mud damage “Still no injuries,” he said Friday night. “No deaths. No missing people.” A section of State Highway 153 through the hard-hit Methow Valley remained closed Friday.
Chunks of highways were eaten away by the deluge. There were at least two slides on State Highway 20 in a 30-mile stretch from Twisp to Okanogan, Transportation Department spokesman Jeff Adamson said. That stretch of road was closed until Friday afternoon. The multiple slides had marooned as many as a dozen vehicles but occupants of those cars were rescued, the Washington State Patrol said. The slides and flooding hit hard in areas burned by this summer’s Carlton Complex wildfires. The fires burned more than 400 square miles and 500 firefighters remain in the area mopping up. “This flooding is in the areas that were burned,” Adamson said. “It brings down rocks, mud and water.” Residents said they were feeling disheartened. “It’s like another nail in the coffin,” Carlton General Store owner Jeff Lyman told the newspaper. “It’s pretty bad down here right now.”
Maggie Garrett, who lives on Benson Creek, described fences torn down and deep channels carved through driveways and backyards. “It was literally like a river running through here,” she said. “And now, everything’s 6 inches under mud.”