The living room floor of a home on Main Street in Lyman has disappeared into the Skagit River, and a road north of that area is crumbling.
The town of Lyman has been hit hard this winter by flooding, and area residents are waiting for government aid or answers about what to do next.
Skagit River flooding in November ate away several hundred feet of land in Lyman, and a propane tank, trees and a garage tumbled into the water.
Following heavy rain this week, Michael Taxdahl’s living room collapsed into the river, solidifying the fact that he will never move back into his home.
Where there was once a stone fireplace, there is now a pipe hanging from the ceiling and some broken floor boards.
It’s like when someone is dying and you know they are going to die, but it’s still hard.
Sherry Taxdahl, whose son’s home has been damaged by Skagit River erosion
“On Monday it was heartbreaking,” Taxdahl’s mother Sherry Taxdahl said of their first inspection of the damage last week. “It’s like when someone is dying and you know they are going to die, but it’s still hard.”
Following heavy rain over the weekend of Feb. 3-4, the Skagit River rose to about 26.7 feet midday Monday, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. Flood stage on the Skagit River is 28 feet.
Now, Taxdahl’s house sits teetering on the bank of the river. Every once in a while more of the bank sloughs off into the water below.
The warped roof, along with the gaping hole in the floor, suggest the rest of Taxdahl’s house will soon follow.
“I’m praying that FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) comes through. That’s all I can hope,” Sherry Taxdahl said.
Kara Symonds with Skagit County Public Works said the county submitted an application for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding to the Emergency Management Division of the Washington state Department of Military, which submitted it to FEMA. If approved, the funding could be used to buy out the affected homes.
While Michael Taxdahl and his neighbors wait for FEMA’s response, they and their families are living in campers and in the homes of relatives.
Sherry Taxdahl said those affected are trying to stay positive, but it has been an emotional ordeal.
“On Monday night I stood out here and bawled,” she said while standing on newly exposed mud near her son’s crumbling home. “It’s pretty sad.”
The recent rain and river rise also took neighbor Mark Harris’ porch and a tree.
Meanwhile, rain-induced flooding in the area that began Feb. 3 undercut Prevedell Road north of Highway 20.
Prevedell Road, which is the only access route for a few dozen residences in the town and in unincorporated Skagit County, is now closed indefinitely while town and county officials coordinate plans for emergency work and permanent repairs.
That’s a major inconvenience for residents such as Jodi Brown.
“It’s been kind of a nightmare,” Brown said. “You can only walk up and down the hill so many times with your groceries.”
Brown lives with her husband and two of their daughters in a home just outside Lyman town limits about halfway up the 1.5-mile road.
With repairs likely months away, Brown’s family will need to continue to haul groceries, hay for their cattle, and propane and firewood for heating up the hill to their home.
“We don’t know how we’re going to do it,” Brown said.
Still, she said Lyman residents, including Michael Taxdahl, have it worse, and she’s thankful the eroding road didn’t threaten any lives.
The road crumbled around a culvert that runs beneath it. The culvert now protrudes from what’s left of the road.
Skagit County this week put a drainage pipe in place to reroute the water down the hill, but a permanent fix is needed before the road safe for vehicles.
Because the damaged part of the road is just within Lyman town limits, it’s up to the town to fix it.
Town officials said stabilizing the Skagit River near Main Street, let alone rebuilding the damaged section of Prevedell Road, could cost millions the town does not have.