Benton, Franklin and 13 other counties might be eligible for federal money to repair damage caused by flooding caused by rapidly melting snow and ice.
The emergency management division within the Washington Military Department is assessing if the damage caused by melting between Jan. 30 and Feb. 22 is severe enough to trigger an emergency declaration by Gov. Jay Inslee.
The department has until March 10 to calculate if the damage meets the federal threshold to determine if it is eligible for financial assistance.
If it does, the governor can declare a state of emergency, setting the stage to seek help, said John Ufford, spokesman for the military department. Ufford said Benton, Franklin and as many as 13 other counties were affected by winter storm flooding.
Benton and Franklin counties closed dozens of roads over the Presidents Day weekend as flooding weakened roadbeds and in some spots washed pavement away altogether. Franklin County, which declared a local state of emergency on Feb. 20, has publicly estimated damage to county owned roads at more than $2 million.
As of Wednesday, about 30 stretches of road remained closed in Franklin County, including long stretches of Glade Road North, which took heavy damage to washouts, and Lind Road near Connell. Weight restrictions remain in place in northern Franklin County.
Benton County has not given a public estimate of damage to its roads. As of Wednesday, about 20 stretches of road remained closed, including Badger Canyon Road from Sellards to East Badger and the southern stretch of Finley Road.
Earlier this week, county commissioners authorized the county engineer to set weight and speed restrictions on roads at risk for permanent damage or destruction. School buses, emergency vehicles and trucks transporting perishable commodities are exempt from the restriction.
The emergency management division is calculating damage to state roads and other public infrastructure, as well.