Flooding likely in Benton City, W. Richland

BENTON CITY -- The Yakima River near Benton City is expected to overflow its banks by more than 2 feet this afternoon, causing moderate flooding in low-lying areas of Benton City and West Richland.

The river at the Kiona gauge -- near Highway 225 in Benton City -- reached the 13-foot flood stage around 6 p.m. Tuesday and is expected to crest near 15.4 feet.

A flood emergency was declared for Benton County because of the rising waters, and sandbags were offered to residents in Benton City and West Richland, but most people didn't seem to be too worried about getting wet.

"I've been in a house fire before and that's the time to panic," said Jim Lindenburger, at Beach RV Park in Benton City. "This is a slow thing. There's no need to panic. Just move your stuff when you need to."

Sara Schwartz, spokeswoman for Benton County Emergency Services, said sandbags were being made available to those who called the nonemergency dispatch line at 628-2616, but as of late Tuesday afternoon, only a couple of calls were received.

Officials were warning residents who lived in flood-prone areas and had damage in 2009 that they likely would be flooded again. Volunteers went door-to-door to notify residents in those areas.

Some of the areas that saw flooding in 2009 when the river reached 15.5 feet include between Babs Avenue and the river in Benton City, sections of Highway 225, and Massingale, Demoss and Pendleton roads in Benton City.

There also was flooding on North Pederson, Grover, Ranch and Riverview roads and North 46th Avenue in West Richland, along with Kingston Road, Jones Road, Van Giesen Street and Gomer Road into the Texas Swale in Richland.

Residents living in flood-prone areas are encouraged to keep an eye on water levels and to move animals and valuable property, including paperwork, to higher elevations and be prepared to evacuate if needed.