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Success in Orting after major flood: 'The levee was dry'

ORTING, Wash. -- The new levee on the Puyallup River in Orting survived its first big test with flying colors. Tuesday's flooding was the 4th biggest since 1962 and officials say it could have inundated parts of the town.

Instead, Orting is high and dry.

"Success," said Orting's top building official Ken Wolfe. He is celebrating the day after his 8,100-foot levee withstood serious flood waters. "For this being the fourth largest flood since 1962, we didn't fill one sandbag."

That's a huge difference from past floods where the Puyallup overran its banks right into the schools and neighborhoods. In 2006, the Village Green development next the river had water everywhere.

With this last flood event there was nothing. It's great news for Beth Stone whose property backs up to the river. "But what happened? The levee held. The levee is new and it rocks."

Quite literally. There are tons of rocks and dirt and even downed trees lining the banks. Logs seen there just didn't wash up on shore; they were actually placed there anchored by chains to work as a buffer to send the water all the way downstream.

The $16.7 million project actually widened the river 2-4 times its original size. New higher levees sit way back from the old ones.

"It just performed beautifully," said Wolfe. "Thanks Pierce County Flood Control District, Salmon Recovery, Department Of Ecololgy and The Nature Conservancy."

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