Boots on the Ground: WCC deploys 37 to assist flood response efforts, 35 more on standby

Today, Friday, May 18, we will have 37 Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) members deployed to Eastern Washington to help communities in Okanogan and Pend Oreille counties respond to the most severe flooding the region has seen in more than 40 years.

Four AmeriCorps members stand over a pile of sand and fill green bags with sand using shovels.

WCC members and staff filling sandbags in Cusick.

Late last week, rain and high daytime temperatures caused significant snowpack melt, pushing many rivers out of their banks. Many local governments directly affected by flooding requested emergency assistance from our WCC AmeriCorps members and staff.

Our WCC crews are deployed to multiple communities to help fill, stack and place sandbags to keep floodwaters out of people’s homes.16 members and staff  are serving in Newport in Pend Oreille County; 18 members and staff are serving in Okanogan in Okanogan County, and Cusick in Pend Oreille County; and five members and staff are serving in Tonasket in Okanogan County.

 In addition, we have six more members and staff actively supporting a Department of Natural Resources base camp in Okanogan where more than 225 DNR, regional fire district, and other interagency staff are staying during the current flood response. Our responsibilities at the camp include organizing and loading supplies like pumps and hoses, loading trucks, and supporting facilities.

Should we receive additional assistance requests, we have another 35 members and staff on standby ready to deploy to help with flood response efforts.

On Friday, May 11, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a state of emergency to make resources available as flooding and high-risk conditions continue. A total of 20 Eastern Washington counties face potential flooding.

Two AmeriCorps members wear yellow hard hats and stand near a low berm of stacked sandbags. You can see high water beyond the sand bags.

WCC crew readies sandbag berm near Pend Oreille River at Newport.

When local disasters such as flooding occur, local and tribal government partners and state officials often request on-the-ground assistance from our WCC.

The National Weather Service is predicting more flooding as hot weather drives more snowmelt to various river systems — especially the Okanogan, Similkameen, Kettle, and Pend Oreille rivers.

The WCC provides hands-on experience, field skills, and training opportunities to young adults between 18 and 25 and military veterans. Our 300 members and 53 field supervisors across the state restore critical habitat, build trails, and protect the state’s natural, historic and environmental resources. They also respond to out-of-state and local disasters.

Learn more about WCC

Ecology's Washington Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps program, consists of three subprograms: the original WCC, Veteran Conservation Corps and Puget SoundCorps. We are currently recruiting for three-month AmeriCorps members positions. Recruitment for the 2018-19 year will begin in July! See photos of the types of projects WCC members support during their service in our WCC Projects Flickr set and WCC Featured Projects Story Map. Learn more and apply online today.