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EHS students lend muscle to local sand-bagging effort

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By Brenda Sexton

The Courier-Herald

Jesse De Leon said he's always supported Enumclaw's schools because he thinks an education is important.

But last week, De Leon was happy to see six, strapping, strong teenagers from Enumclaw High arrive to fill and place sand bags to hold back the water creeping toward his Plateau home.

“I really appreciate it a bunch,” De Leon said. “I'm glad someone was able to come out and help out. I have friends, but they all work.”

De Leon said the water had been inching its way from a tributary that runs near his property toward the house for some time. When it made it to the fence he began to worry. When he came home from work Jan. 10 it was at his deck.

He started the search for sand and bags. King County provided the sand. Friends at King Feed pointed him toward the high school for a work force.

Each year, Enumclaw Fire Chief Joe Kolisch asks for high school students to volunteer to be on a “call” list for emergencies just like this. Students must be 18 years or older or have a parent's permission to participate. They also have to be released from the high school. This year about 30 are on the list.

“I had kids coming up to me when it was bone-dry in the fall to tell me they would be ready to do some sand bagging when it was needed,” EHS Principal Terry Parker said. “It's great for our kids and it's great for the community.

“Chief Kolisch is the inspiration and force behind it.”

De Leon began sand bagging at 6:30 the morning of Jan. 11. Around 10 a.m. Derek Jones, Michael Gallatin, Joe Brassard, Alex Sneed, Kayla Folk, Stephanie Robertson and a representative from the Enumclaw Fire Department joined him.

About an hour later the students had built a solid wall of white sand-filled bags against the rising tide.

De Leon, who bought the place at the corner of 424th Street Southeast and 244th Avenue Southeast 21 years ago, said he's never had this problem. He said it's a drainage problem acerbated by recent rains. He said he's been after the county to clear the creek so the water flows through it, but has been told it's a salmon producing area.

“It's just a Band-Aid for the problem,” De Leon said of the sand bags. “If the creek was cleaned I wouldn't have this problem.”

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com.

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