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Flooded clinic forces hundreds to seek methadone outside Seattle

A woman in a pink jacket looks at a clipboard while a bus sits at the curb next to her.
Bailey Verhunce
Evergreen Treatment Services
Staff at Evergreen's Seattle clinic prepare the last bus of the day to Renton on Jan. 19, 2024.

This week, many people trying to get medication for drug addiction in the Seattle area had to wait hours when a methadone clinic was forced to close.

A pipe on the second floor burst on Sunday, during the recent cold snap. Water cascaded down onto the first floor and into the basement, where it left sixteen inches of standing water.

An office where a computer monitor sits askew and parts of the ceiling are on the floor.
Evergreen Treatment Services
Some of the damage inside Evergreen Treatment Services' Seattle clinic.

Evergreen Treatment Services runs the clinic out of a century-old building; like many nonprofits in the state, they don’t have the money to renovate or repair.

Sean Soth, the organization’s director of health integration, helped organize buses to take clients to a clinic in Renton. Many people waited long hours in the cold to get their medication.

"We can take the literal, kind of, collapse of this building, and talk about the risk that we run at nonprofits — especially in behavioral health, and in substance use treatment — on a regular basis, because they are underfunded, and the people we're treating are struggling," Soth said, standing outside the clinic, where people gathered under a pavilion-style tent next to a heater, waiting to take a shuttle.

Local drug experts have pushed methadone as a critical and under-utilized part of the fight against fentanyl. Soth said it's the drug that’s most impactful for reducing fentanyl cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

But this week, not everyone has been able to get it. The Seattle clinic expected 600 people on Tuesday, many of whom ended up waiting for hours in the cold.

"People did have to walk out," Soth said. "They had housing appointments… or jobs."

Since then, around a third of the Seattle clients have stopped showing up, but roughly 350 keep returning, wait time or not.

Evergreen Treatment Services launched a Flood Relief Fund asking for community support. The addiction and social services nonprofit does not yet know the exact cost of repairs but said it will be in the millions. As of Friday, they had raised more than $38,000.

In an empty room with tile floors and cerulean blue walls painted with yellow dandelions, several popcorn ceiling panels are on the ground, which looks damp.
Evergreen Treatment Services
Evergreen Treatment Services' Seattle methadone clinic, where a pipe burst on Jan. 14, 2024, during a cold snap. The building was built in 1914, and the nonprofit has not had enough money for renovations that are sorely needed.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Scott Greenstone reports on under-covered communities, and spotlights the powerful people making decisions that affect all of us throughout Western Washington. Email him with story ideas at