Will you abate the dangerous flooding in Elk River? | Lost Coast Outpost | Humboldt County

Jesse Noell asks Natalie Arroyo, Kim Bergel

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Will you abate the dangerous flooding in Elk River?

Humboldt County administers the FEMA Flood Guidelines and County Ordinance which limit increase of base flood elevation to 1 foot above the 1982-87 flood line. By 2011, the flood line had risen 3-5’ above the FEMA line. In 2011, Rex Bohn and Virginia Bass refused to declare nuisance and/or exercise the County’s mandate duty to abate increased flooding that results from 6-10’ feet of sediment clogging the channel and from obstructions to flow created by a Cannabis greenhouse. Apparently, Rex and Virginia didn’t wish to hold the timber companies or cannabis grower accountable for the dangerous conditions. The County also refuses to lower tax base value of affected homes to reflect the full amount of damage and increased flood insurance quotes. Will you seek tax justice for the affected homeowners and undertake the mandated County duty to abate the dangerous condition?

— Jesse Noell


Natalie Arroyo

Hello Jesse, 

Thank you for bringing up this matter. I am familiar with the conditions in the “nuisance reach” of the Elk River from years of work in the late 2000s and 2010s. I am aware that the anthropogenic sediment impacts in this geologically challenging watershed are very severe, and have personally seen many of these flooding conditions. I am also very aware that the flooding conditions are not just part of the natural dynamics of a floodplain - we know this from oral histories and from the meter+ of sediment deposition that has been measured. 

There are a few opportunities I see here: to declare a nuisance condition, to seek state or federal funding to excavate sediment from the channel, to consider tax remedies as you’ve suggested, and to improve upland conditions through restoration and using other tools as needed. I will need to talk with staff, residents, and partner organizations who have worked in the watershed, including non-profits who have done work there in the years since I did so. Without this important intel from all sides, I cannot commit to a specific approach, but I can commit to spending time getting up to speed, asking the important questions, and seeking a fair outcome for impacted residents. 

I know this is very important to you and your neighbors. I would be glad to discuss it further. I can be reached at arroyoforsupervisor <at> gmail <dot> com. I unfortunately don’t have your contact information recorded correctly to get in touch, so I welcome hearing from you to talk more about what has happened, share documents, etc. 

Sincerely, Natalie Arroyo