Podcast | On WA’s coast, the threat of a flood is its own disaster

Reporter Hannah Weinberger tells us how a monumental levee project could ease economic turbulence in two Grays Harbor County cities.

A man on the edge of a body of water holding his hands at waist level

Hoquiam City Administrator Brian Shay shows the height and location of a levee wall to be built along the Hoquiam riverfront to prevent flooding. (Genna Martin/Crosscut)

For coastal communities like those in Washington’s Grays Harbor County, flooding has long been a part of life. But as floods have become more frequent and severe, this aspect of life at (or below) sea level is existentially threatening the livelihoods of those who live in these economically distressed areas.

People living and working in the towns of Hoquiam and Aberdeen, for instance, are beset by the prohibitive costs of flood insurance and building requirements, making economic recovery an even greater challenge.

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That may soon change with a recent infusion of federal money that may allow these towns to build a multimillion-dollar levee. Advocates say the levee will help these towns stay above water, literally but also economically.

For this episode of the Crosscut Reports podcast, host Sara Bernard talks with reporter Hannah Weinberger about her recent trip to Grays Harbor, where she talked to the community members most affected by flooding and to the people who hope to change the fortunes of these coastal communities. 

Read our full story about efforts to hold back floodwaters in Grays Harbor County here

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