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Skagit River flooding causes banks to erode, threatening several homes

The Skagit County Board of Commissioners is now requesting emergency assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent further erosion along the Skagit River, where three homes are now teetering along the riverbank. (Photo: KOMO News)

LYMAN, Wash. - The Skagit County Board of Commissioners is now requesting emergency assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent further erosion along the Skagit River, where three homes are now teetering along the riverbank.

“I can’t even describe the feeling I feel,” said Michael Taxdahl who was forced to evacuate his house. Taxdahl purchased the home in 2008. He and his fiancée, BrieAnna Anderson, wanted to raise their children there, but it’s not safe to return.

“Nobody ever figured in our lifetime that this was going to happen here or else we would have moved years ago,” said Taxdahl.

Taxdahl’s fiancée learned her home was in danger on Thursday while helping her neighbor, Mark Harris, evacuate.

“I can’t see staying here. The land continues to go,” said Mark Harris.

Harris has lived along the river for nearly 28 years, but now is simply heartbroken as he watches his dream crumbling down the riverbank.

“Just tough to watch it all go,” said Harris.

As of Friday evening, about 50 percent of the ground beneath a shed on Harris' had eroded.

On Thursday the Skagit River reached it's highest level since 2006.

“It’s terrible that no one is doing anything for usour state, our state government, our federal government is doing nothing for us. Our county has not stepped up to the plate,” said Town of Layman Mayor Ed Hills.

Ed Hills said he made numerous phone calls and sent emails trying to get help, but didn't make any progress until Friday. He said initially the Army Corps told him the erosion did not affect the town’s infrastructure so there was nothing they could do.

By Friday night that shed was swept away by the Skagit River.

The Guidinger's dream home is also literally on the edge of being washed away. Their family had owned the property since the 1920s, they said.

The force of the Skagit River flooding is eroding land underneath their home.

"I designed it myself, drafted it, engineered it and it built, and it's a sad, sad thing,” said homeowner Richard Guidinger.

“We planned on living here till the day we died, not the day the river took it away,” added Vicky Guidinger. "Very frustrated, very angry that people are just letting us wash away."

The Guidinger's say they've been documenting the erosion since 2009 and sounded the alarm to the Army Corps of Engineers and nothing was done.

"This is what happens when you put off requests for help and requests for things to be done,” said Richard Guidinger showing KOMO News the erosion.

"I don't know what the next step is, I'm completely lost, I'm relying on friends family and other people to try and figure out what is our next step, where do we go, what can we do,” he added.

In a letter sent to the Army Corps on Friday, the Skagit County Board of Commissioners requested emergency action to construct a temporary berm to prevent more erosion.

The Commissioners believe critical infrastructure is now threatened, particularly if there’s additional flooding this winter along the Skagit River. The infrastructure, which is in the path of potential erosion, includes a town-owned water main, two fiber-optic lines and an electrical line that runs alongside West Main Street, according to a press release from the Department of Emergency Management.

In the meantime, residents continue to watch and wait to see if their homes topple into the Skagit River.

"This is my piece of the American dream," said Richard Guidinger who also evacuated. "I designed my house, I built my house myself."

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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