Storms bring floods, sinkholes to South Kitsap

Kitsap County has declared a state of emergency in the county, due to flooding from heavy rains, leading to numerous road closures, including major commuter paths such as Highway 3, and a large sinkhole in Port Orchard.

The state of emergency coincides with a cancellation of the County’s budget meeting scheduled for this evening.

“Public safety is our number one concern and while we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, we don’t want anyone to risk traveling during these dangerous conditions,” Kitsap County Board of Commissioners Chair Josh Brown said.

In Port Orchard, a water drain breakage along Bethel Avenue at the High Point Shopping Center caused a large sinkhole at the edge of the parking lot abutting Bethel Avenue.

Sometime around 11 a.m. Monday, a small sink hole appeared, but rapidly expanded and continued eroding, eventually extending to an estimated 40 to 50 feet in length, said Public Works Director Maher Abed.

Port Orchard Public Works employees were on the scene blocking off the area, while law enforcement redirected traffic away from Bethel Avenue, closing off the businesses from the round-about to the intersection at Bethel and Lund.

“We are very concerned about the integrity of Bethel Avenue,” Maher said at the scene.

With the hole continuing to erode around 12:30 p.m., Public Works feared the large sinkhole could extend into the road, and even cut off a water line in case it also broke.

Maher said the sinkhole is due to a break in a water drainage pipe, which then washed out the supporting ground supporting the parking lot.

By 1 p.m., the erosion had slowed and Public Works began excavating the site to help stabilize the area, but Abed said the crew has limited options while the rain continues.

“We can’t do a lot at this point until we get beyond the storm,” he said.

Area businesses were essentially closed, with no traffic entering Bethel Avenue

“We’re pretty much closed,” said Bethel Avenue Bookstore owner Rebecca Guthrie.

Employees at that business were hoping to acquire fans to bring into the store to fan the soaked carpet in the back. Behind the store, water had accumulated to three-feet in depth, Guthrie said.

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