Trapped by the Water

Colville Valley

Today’s post was going to highlight the Columbia River Cowboy Gathering. But over the weekend, events have transpired. Instead, I’m going to share my town’s predicament.

I came home Sunday, Easter Sunday, to the devastation of our roads by a month-long flood. Our land, both in Ferry and Stevens County’s, is swelled not only with standing water, but rushing flood water that has caused our roads to wash out and crack apart.

The first stretch of road that caved was north of Republic, WA on Highway 21. The San Poil River runs along this highway. Normally fifteen feet across, the river now spans from bank to base of the mountains that line the highway.

San Poil River. Rushing flood water.

Bridges are washed out, leaving people stranded in their own homes and communities.

An hour away, where we shop and bank, the Colville Valley flooded, covering and blocking sections of road. Highway 395 has been closed and over the weekend, reopened. The sigh of relief was quickly washed away as the Inchelium Highway has now cracked, again blocking our way to Colville.

Colville Valley. The house looks flooded but does stand on dry ground.  

A section of highway 395 meandering its way to the Canadian Border is still closed. Detours for detours has been the new norm these past few weeks.

The water is normally up to the middle, or higher, of the pillars.

Normally this time of year, in correlation with our area school’s spring breaks, our ferry closes for annual maintenance. With whispers of Grand Coulee Dam closing for repair, the ferry will shut down tonight for one month.

How ironic to peer across our valleys and see our land flooded with water. Then glance at a river, and see miles of exposed land normally covered by the Columbia River.

Dry land, normally covered by the backwaters of Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River know as Lake Roosevelt.   

I offered our ferry to the Colville Valley for a time…

Our K-12 school is closed today. Our superintendent, principal, and several teachers and bus drivers live on the other side of the dividing line.

I think we are beginning to feel a little claustrophobic.

Education and sports came to a halt today. EMS services will be rerouted tomorrow, adding on extra time in the midst of emergencies.

Banks of the Columbia River with Hall Creek flowing through on the reservation side.  

Every day we are blessed by beauty in our isolated corner of God’s Country–until tragedy strikes. While at the post office this morning, I learned our postmaster and mail carrier will drive three and a half hours twice a day through Keller to make sure we have continued use of our post office.

While at the post office this morning, I learned our postmaster and mail carrier will have to drive three and a half hours twice a day through Keller, south of us, to make sure we have continued use of their services.

I’m thankful for their willingness. I happily forgo my mailbox delivery in order to have their doors open.

Banks of the Columbia River

Next stop this morning was to our little Inchelium Community Store. Employees bustled around, getting ready for a stock-up shipment of food and supplies.

I feel somewhat pioneerish today. With only one way out of town, west and the only direction available by night’s fall, I’m thankful for the warmth, water, and food I do have. Until alternative roads are fixed, I may be traveling horseback to and fro, especially if we run out of fuel! Nonetheless, gratitude and peace surround me.

San Poil flood water.

One thing I have learned due to the fire’s these past summers that have pinned us in, is to treat this as an adventure, trusting God will and does provide. For there is no storm that is too big for Him. My

For there is no storm that is too big for Him. My advice? Hang on and enjoy the ride!

Happy trails and remember, Gallop into Adventure!

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  1. I sense there is a future story here. Nothing like first-hand observation to “Write what you know.” Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise?

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      There certainly could be, Judith! Especially once I move from historical to contemporary pieces. Which is soon.

  2. What an adventure amidst troubling circumstances! Of course, you – a courageous woman of the west – would use your writing and horses to make the most of the situation. Hugs to all in need.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      It’s been an adventure, Betty. The tribe has worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to keep the ferry in operation. It’s been remarkable to see how God has worked this out.

  3. Oh, my goodness, Carmen. I’m so sorry for all the inconvenience your community is going through. I sure hope this all clears up soon.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      All though the ferry will now remain open this week, the highway north that leads out of town, is sill closed and sinking deeper. The county is working on alternative roads. They will have to build a loop around the crack. All long as the west road remains open, we will not be completely trapped.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Roads are collapsing everywhere, Gaby. But both tribal and county roads departments are working overtime, creating alternative passageways.