By Marianne Lincoln
UPDATE 3/21/17: The OK Highway is still closed. Crews were working on a big hole in the ground, so they most have gotten the pole removed and are repairing the pipes. Vactor trucks are still removing material around the drainage pipe.
THRIFT, WA — Since Friday March 17, the Orting-Kapowsin Highway has been closed just north of 224th Street due to flooding over the roadway. Neighbors in the area say they have never seen Thrift Pond flood this way. Kevin and Dot Kennedy’s home is surrounded by water and it has invaded their basement. Several years on new homes nearby have little back yard left, playground equipment and tool sheds are in the pond.
Monday, Pierce County sent crews to the area. They identified a light pole containing solar cells for the traffic signal at 224th may have been placed into the roadways storm water drainage pipe, blocking the flow of water out of the pond to the upstream system.
Crews cut the wooden pole to ground level and carful placed a steel pipe down into the ground around it. Several vactor trucks took turns suctioning material out from around the wooden pole. The hope was this would loosen the remainder of the light pole so it could be removed. They were concerned however, that upon the removal of the pole, the backed up water would become a geyser, gushing into the air all over the neighborhood.
I took photos of the scene and returned home. Kennedy promised to send photos over from the past days or two as well as photos of the gusher if it happens. Kennedy also noted, having lived in this location for about 30 years, the pond had never seen such high water. He does believe the presence of the new development into the wetland basin contributed to the flooding. Many years ago, when the storm water retention ponds were installed, they included pipes to take excess water away from the vicinity and carry it away.
We will keep you updated on the road condition. It appears the issue may be resolved by Tuesday, March 21, 2017.
[Thank you to my sister Judy Scott who piloted the Cessna so I could get the aerial photos.]