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Homeowners along eroding Skagit River banks plea for federal help

Neighbors who have been pushed out of their homes along the Skagit River are now forced to watch and wait. It's not yet clear if the city of Lyman will get the federal resources it needs to shore up the eroding river bank. (Photo: KOMO News/Air 4)

LYMAN, Wash. -- Neighbors who have been pushed out of their homes along the Skagit River are now forced to watch and wait.

It’s not yet clear if the city of Lyman will get the federal resources it needs to shore up the eroding river bank.

Pieces of Richard and Vicky’s Guidinger’s large backyard now sit 30 feet below a steep embankment of the Skagit River.

Last week high flood waters eroded the river’s bank, forcing Lyman city officials on Monday to deem three homes unsafe to live in.

“It just makes me feel horrible,” said Richard Guidinger, who was forced to leave his house after a large part of his backyard plunged into the river.

All three homeowners have been trying to get help from the federal government - but on Tuesday evening, they received disappointing news from Lyman’s mayor.

“There’s no declaration of federal emergency from President Trump so the FEMA buy back is wiped off the slate,” said Eddie Hills, the mayor of Lyman. “There’s not going to be a fund they can use.”

The lack of federal resources has left neighbors, who fear they’ve lost their homes, worried and concerned about the future.

“No FEMA money for buy back, no FEMA money for relocation, no FEMA money for anything for our tagged houses,” said Richard Guidinger.

Officials say the damage along the river simply wasn’t catosrophic enough for the President to declare a federal emergency. Now the Guidinger’s have nowhere to go.

“This was the house we built to die in, not for the people to allow the river to take,” said Vicky Guidinger.

Wednesday Governor Jay Inslee sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers in support of the city of Lyman’s request for the eroded bank to be shored up before more flooding comes this winter - but the process could be lengthy.

“My hope is that we get the work done as soon as possible,” said Hills.

Neighbors are now waiting to see if the Army Corp will shore up the embankment before the homes become a victim of mother nature.

Family and friends have set up several GoFundMe accounts to help those residents impacted by the flooding along the Skagit River.

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