© Grays Harbor County
A sink hole that developed on South Bank Road south of Elma may take the county several weeks to repair. The sink hole comes right up to the road, leaving about a 20-foot drop-off from the shoulder, said County Engineer Russ Esses.
County road crews have been busy over the last few days, repairing damage from relentless rain storms over the past week.

The county's main concern at this point is a portion of South Bank Road South of Elma just east of Lambert Road, where a failed pipe has caused a sinkhole that opened at the edge of the road, County Engineer Russ Esses told The Daily World Monday afternoon. He said the county called in a contractor to open up the damaged pipe and stem flooding caused by the pipe's failure, but until the Chehalis River level drops and repair work can commence, the road will remain closed.

There is a detour on local access roads, but Esses said it's not suitable for log truck traffic or heavy hauling.

"Right now, we're waiting for the river to drop," Esses said. "We're hoping ... to get the road open in the next few weeks."

How long the road will remain closed depends on how much of the existing pipe can be saved, he added.

"If all new pipe is needed, it could add time to the closure," Esses said.

A portion of Blue Slough Road between Cosmopolis and Montesano was also undermined a bit over the weekend, but Esses said that issue is not of nearly as much concern.

"This has been kind of an ongoing thing," he said.

County crews have applied a patch to the uneven road surface that developed, and will continue to apply patches to smooth out the road. Currently, stop signs are placed in both directions before the bump, but Esses said those will be removed as the road continues to be smoothed out by crews. The plan is then for a more permanent patch of the road to happen this summer.

"It's a little bit of wait and see," Esses said. "But it's behaving."

Earlier in the day, the Grays Harbor County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution establishing a local declaration of emergency.

"We're thinking there's a good chance that with the declaration we'll be able to apply for federal dollars," Esses told The Vidette at the meeting.

Heavy rain and wind from two storm systems arriving Dec. 7 and Dec. 12 pounded the region over the last week.

More than 4 1/2 inches of rain fell on the Harbor during those five days, according to measurements taken at a weather station at Bowerman Field in Hoquiam. An inch of rain fell on the first day of the storm, and nearly an inch followed on both Dec. 10 and 12.

Wind accompanied the rain. On Dec. 6 there were sustained winds of 48 mph and gusts of 60 mph. Gusts around 50 mph were recorded on multiple days.

Flooding was reported countywide, including the Chehalis River in East County as well as Aberdeen near the former TOP Food grocery store and Walmart, and in Hoquiam on the Hoquiam River.

Much of remaining road closures listed on the county website are the result of water over the roadway, and Esses said that clearing those closures is merely a waiting game until water recedes. But as the water leaves, further road damage may surface.

"There was a cycle there for three or four storms, and it was fairly significant ... with the Chehalis it was probably a five- or 10-year event," Esses said. As for the current weather calming down, "That gives the chance for the river to drop and things to dry out — and to get ready for the next one," he said.