In wake of devastating flooding, South Park residents worried about water quality

Jan 3, 2023, 7:02 AM
Photo from KIRO 7

It’s been nearly one week since fast-rising flood waters submerged homes in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood.

More than a dozen families were displaced and forced from their homes into hotels.

Follow this link to read additional stories from KIRO

For many, it’s still not safe to return. Electricity can’t be restored to all, so they’re stuck in the dark. Mold and E.coli are also burgeoning concerns.

Homeowner Jill Reese tells KIRO 7′s Lauren Donovan they’re concerned about the feet of water they had to wade through last Tuesday.

“It was like we were in a bathtub or a trough just sitting, clearly dirty water,” said Reese. “Scum floating on it, garbage floating in it.”

Reese believes the city should have prioritized testing that water but failed to.

“Initially, we were told there was no sewage in it,” said Reese. “A neighbor who actually is pregnant asked that the city test the water. They hadn’t even tested it.”

Reese says her household lost two bedrooms worth of belongings. She’s still determining whether or not to salvage some of her other belongings or throw them out.

Not only is the Duwamish River a super fund site, but when it spilled over its banks Tuesday, it passed through blocks of heavy industry.

“Just very polluting industries really concentrated in this industrial area, and the water came through all of that,” said Reese.

KIRO 7′s Lauren Donovan reached out to Seattle Public Utilities for additional information on water testing in the neighborhood but has yet to hear back.

Seattle Public Utilities has set up sanitation stations, port-a-potties and pop-up showers for those living in the impacted blocks. Clean-up crews hauled away an estimated 9,500 pounds of garbage and debris.

Neighbors are grateful for that support.

“We’ve really shifted into recovery and clean-up mode now,” said Keri Buchard-Juarez with Seattle Public Utilities. “We’re working with families one by one to understand how they were impacted.

The department has also hired interpreters like Kathleen Perez to break language barriers.

“They’re traumatized; they’re trying to just clean stuff up,” said Perez. “I’m afraid there’s probably going to be illness, and there’s probably going to be mold issues.”

Follow this link to read additional stories from KIRO

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In wake of devastating flooding, South Park residents worried about water quality