It’s 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 6.
All is quiet on Riverside Drive in the Nisqually Valley — except, that is, for the comforting patter of rain the wintertime Delta knows so well.
But listen closely … there’s another sound — and it’s not so tranquil. As darkness shrouds the neighborhood, a distinct rhythmic lapping beats against a nearby home’s fence.
Inside the home — a former garage converted into a one-bedroom apartment — Marliese Hall has vowed she’ll stay put. No evacuation for her ...
But there’s a catch: Unusually persistent downpours over the past month and Tacoma Power’s release of water from the hydroelectric La Grande Dam on the Nisqually River has threatened to turn her yard into a swimming pool that could eventually inundate her apartment. Water, in fact, is cascading down her street from both directions, effectively closing off the whole area.
By Thursday afternoon, Hall had been one of an estimated 700 to 1,000 residents who were advised to evacuate, but she was stubborn — and reluctant.
“I wanted to stay in my home,” Hall, 74, said, “but my daughter had other ideas.”
By the time said daughter Lisa McDaniels arrived at her mom’s apartment Thursday evening from her home in Tenino, she was in no mood to hear excuses.
“My daughter said, ‘You’re not staying here, and we’re not going to be worrying about having to get you out of here when it’s too late.’”
So taking those wise words to heart, Hall left her two cats atop the refrigerator where they had meandered — along with their food — jumped in her car and hightailed it out of the apartment.
“I had to drive through water that was coming down from both ends of the street to get out of here,” she said. “And I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back in once I left because the whole area would be closed off.”
And that was that. She spent Thursday night in a Dupont hotel for $140, hoping against hope she’d be able to return home by the next night or find another place less expensive. Staying with her daughter was out of the question; Hall’s extended family who live with her — and her two dogs — wouldn’t have fit into her daughter’s home, so it was a hotel or nothing Thursday night.
And that’s how she ended up at the Thurston County Emergency Management/Red Cross shelter Friday afternoon — which had hosted only two people Thursday night but was braced for more if the rain continued, a Red Cross volunteer said.
Hall wouldn’t be one of them.
Her dogs, she discovered, wouldn’t be able to accompany her unless they were restrained — and she figured they’d howl the night away locked in kennels. So she found a cheaper hotel Friday night — $75 this time — and hoped it would be her last.
Hall, who was born in Mannheim, Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1962, said she hadn’t experienced flooding of this magnitude in the seven years she’s lived on Riverside Drive. She didn’t seem bowed by it all, though.
Makes sense when you realize she has battled breast and bladder cancers in the past year — and an unrelated stomach infection three years ago that she said had put on life support. So ... a little water probably wasn’t going to faze a brave woman who’d been through so much — and had had the energy before she retired to own both a security company and a restaurant.
“I hope for the best that my home will stay dry, and I’ll clean up what needs to be cleaned up when I get back to my house,” Hall said matter of factly. “It doesn’t do any good to frown. You just take it as it goes and do what you can.”
Thurston County Emergency Management’s evacuation advisory remained in effect Friday night as Tacoma Power reduced the flow on Friday from the La Grande Dam from 15,000 to 11,000 cubic feet of water per second. Floodwater should begin to recede at about 9 p.m. Friday night, though the evacuation advisory could last until Sunday, Feb. 9. The Red Cross shelter at the Gwinwood Camp and Conference Center in Lacey will remain open until residents are able to return to their homes.