Would coordinate emergency management in case of catastrophic flooding in the Green River Valley
StoryWith the compromising of the Howard Hansen Dam’s ability to protect the Green River valley from catastrophic flooding because of anomalies found within the dam’s structure, Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn is asking for the state to take a role in coordinating a response to an emergency. Dunn introduced legislation today asking the Governor to appoint the director of the State’s Emergency Management Division to lead local response efforts if there is a catastrophic flood affecting the Green River Valley and surrounding areas.
“If the dam could not hold back water during a flood occurrence, this would be a disaster of enormous proportion,” said Dunn. “The Green River Valley is home to tens of thousands of residents, major employers and the region’s largest warehouse and distribution operations. We need to have a dedicated person at the state level in place to coordinate the overall emergency response needs.”
If appointed, a “Flood Czar” would assume all responsibility for:
• Coordinated implementation of the individual response plans of the jurisdictions in the Green River Valley;
• Allocation of manpower, equipment and resources of each jurisdiction in a manner that ensures the maximum protection of lives and property,
• Initiating mobilization of the National Guard to assist in emergency response areas.
“Let’s be clear here – currently the dam presents no immediate danger and the Army Corps is actively working to reduce the level of risk—but even they have acknowledged a permanent solution is years and millions of dollars away,” said Dunn. “When you see the level of devastation the region received in January with the Howard Hansen still able to hold water, we can’t afford to take any chances.”
A study prepared by ECONorthwest Inc, says that almost 6 percent (65,000) of the county’s jobs are located within the floodplains with an annual wage and salary income of $3.7 billion. The resulting shutdown of economic activity due to flooding in the valley would cost the region $46 million or more every day with the loss of manufacturing and warehouse distribution centers.
“Just look at flooding experiences in Fargo, ND and New Orleans, and you see how vital it is to have a clearly defined single line of authority to direct operations,” said Dunn.