NEWPORT, Wash. – Larry Cole spent days running multiple water pumps in his yard and basement as he tried to fight the rising Pend Oreille River, about 50 miles north of Spokane. He watched helplessly as the river filled his basement Wednesday morning, sending four feet of water into his home.
"I had to throw up my hands and say, I can't pump out that river," he said. "I can't do it. There's no way I can get that much water."
Flood waters breached a concrete retaining wall he reinforced with sandbags. Water even bubbled from the ground as the pressure of near record river levels pushed on shorelines in Pend Oreille County.
Cole called friends from church and members of his family to help remove furniture from the finished basement last week before it could be damaged by the water.
Cole said even if the water receded today, it would take a month to dry the basement completely before he can start to rebuild.
After weeks of heavy rain and warm temperatures which melted mountain snow pack, authorities believe the river will crest Thursday or Friday before receding only slightly this weekend.
Nearly 120,000 cubic feet of water is moving in the river each second. The National Weather Service estimates water levels are approaching those in 1997, the last time the river flooded to this extent.