New Levee Project in Grays Harbor to Help Protect Region from Intense Flooding

Cantwell: Long-sought project will protect homes, incentivize businesses and boost local economic growth

ABERDEEN, WA — Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) attended the groundbreaking of the Aberdeen-Hoquiam Flood Protection Project yesterday and celebrated the major step forward to protect homes and businesses in Grays Harbor County from severe flooding, spurring future opportunities for economic growth.

“More than 10 percent of Grays Harbor’s population lives within this flood plain, and the local residents and business owners have to face these difficulties,” Sen. Cantwell said. “Many local businesses have said it’s too expensive to even rent space because of the insurance premiums, and residents here in Aberdeen and Hoquiam pay over $2 million in flood insurance a year. This is just simply unacceptable – too high, if we’re going to help this community grow and develop.”

The Aberdeen-Hoquiam Flood Protection Project is composed of two levees designed and placed in order to protect the region’s low-lying areas from floods, improve storm drainage and reduce the economic burden of flooding disasters. Once completed, the project will remove more than 3,100 properties from FEMA’s mapped Special Flood Hazard area.

Currently, the area is vulnerable to intense flooding. The financial burdens of rebuilding, the increased costs associated with flood insurance, and reduced development and investment opportunities in the community have negatively impacted the local economy; in the past four years, Aberdeen and Hoquiam have lost an estimated 842 jobs due to floods.

“The cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam have been battling flooding for well over 100 years,” said Nick Bird, city engineer for the city of Aberdeen. “Once this facility is in operation, the area behind us, there will be a noticeable reduction in flood hazards upstream.”

The total project will cost $202.8 million; so far, it’s secured $54.8 million, including $29.9 million from the Washington State Legislature, $15 million in city funding and $9.95 million in FEMA Congressionally Directed Spending. The project is under consideration for $34.65 million in funding through a FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant requested by the City of Hoquiam. Sen. Cantwell also helped request $5 million in Congressionally Directed Spending for this project for the 2023 fiscal year.

A transcript of the event can be found HERE. Audio can be found HERE.