Grays Harbor’s ‘first step’ in flood rebuild

A mixture of rain, king tides, tidal surge and rapid snowmelt in early January 2022 that led to mass flooding throughout Grays Harbor County left damage and flood debris for residents throughout the county.

Now, the county is helping homeowners get rid of their flood debris.

The assistance, which comes from the county in the form of $50 vouchers, is available to those who experienced flood damage between Jan. 1 through Jan. 16.

The rainfall on Thursday, Jan. 6, in Hoquiam, measured 5.78 inches, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle. The figure marked the wettest day on record for Hoquiam. Aberdeen received a similar amount of rain, based on National Weather Service data.

But, the damage left in the wake of the flooding is countywide, according to Hannah Cleverly, deputy director of Emergency Management for Grays Harbor County.

“The damage we saw was fairly widespread in the sense we saw quite a bit (of damage) from the Aberdeen and Hoquiam areas, and the Elma and Oakville areas,” she said. “We also saw areas in Ocean Shores and Copalis (Beach.) It was a widespread event. There isn’t one particular area we’re focusing on.”

Mark Cox, director of Utilities, Facilities and Community Development, spoke about the vouchers on Friday, Feb. 4. The vouchers were made available on Monday, Feb. 7, according to a Grays Harbor County news release.

“The county has just authorized $30,000 worth of free dumping available to county residents,” he said, noting how there are 600 vouchers available.

Vouchers are available at the following locations and times. All are available from Monday through Friday.

Aberdeen City Hall — 200 E. Market St. — from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cosmopolis City Hall — 1300 1st St. — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Elma City Hall (front office) — 202 W. Main St. — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hoquiam City Hall — 609 8th St., — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

McCleary City Hall — 100 S. 3rd St. — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Oakville City Hall — 204 Main St. — 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Ocean Shores Utility Billing Office — 800 Anchor Ave. NW — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Those who live in unincorporated Grays Harbor County can go to Grays Harbor Emergency Management — 310 W. Spruce Ave. Suite 212, in Montesano — from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Also, if the resident lives in unincorporated Grays Harbor County, they can go to the nearest city’s location in order to pick up a voucher, which are valid through Feb. 28. The vouchers will no longer be accepted after that date.

In case residents need more help, because they have more debris than what is covered by the voucher, they can pick up a second voucher.

Cleverly just asks those who ask for an additional voucher ask for it because they need it.

“We understand there are some who have been impacted more than others,” she said. “We want people to use the honor system.”

The vouchers are not intended for anything but help with flood debris.

“It is intended for those who have damage from the flood, (it is) not a precursor for the spring cleaning program,” Cleverly said.

The current disposal rates are:

Tip fee: $109.50-per-ton

Refrigeration: $34.86 plus weight

Car tire: $2.90 each plus weight

Large tire: $12.20 each plus weight

Rims: $1.75 each plus weight

Residents should also fill out a damage assessment form for any damages incurred to their primary residence, secondary residence, and-or business. The forms can be found in both English and Spanish at the county’s website.

In order to get a voucher, the resident must provide their name and address. If the disposal exceeds $50, the resident has to pay the remaining charges at the time the debris is collected.

County residents also need to drive their debris to the Grays Harbor Central Transfer Station — 29 Gavett Lane, in Montesano, because the county doesn’t have anything in place for individuals who can’t self-transport their debris.

“We hope neighbors will help individuals in need if called upon,” Cleverly said.

So far, the county hasn’t received any resident requests for vouchers, nor has county staff given out any vouchers.

The creation of the flood voucher program has been well-received by the cities in Grays Harbor, Cleverly said.

“All of the cities were very appreciative and very happy that the voucher program became what is is,” she said. “All are very excited to get this out to their residents.”

Cleverly said she and other county staff were very excited that Grays Harbor County commissioners approved the project.

“There was a lot of work from Grays Harbor Emergency Management staff, the county’s Utilities and Development Division staff, in addition to public services to go into the voucher program,” she said. “It’s a great first step for the residents of Grays Harbor County to rebuild back their homes.”