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Leaders stress preparedness, helping neighbors, as King County enters annual flood season


In recognizing October as Flood Awareness Month in King County, Executive Dow Constantine and members of the King County Flood Control District today urged everyone to be sure that their preparedness for the upcoming flood season extended beyond their own home.


King County Executive Dow Constantine kicking off 2012 Flood Awareness Month
Executive Constantine kicks off Flood Awareness Month

In recognizing October as Flood Awareness Month in King County, Executive Dow Constantine and members  of the King County Flood Control District today urged everyone to be sure that their preparedness for the upcoming flood season extended beyond their own home.

“We are not only asking individuals to prepare for flood season by creating or updating emergency plans for themselves and their families, we are also asking everyone to take that extra step – to reach out to your neighbors and ensure that they are also ready,” the Executive said.

"We never know when serious flooding could occur in King County,” said Flood Control District Board Chair Julia Patterson.  We only know that it will and when it comes, we will be prepared. And just as we are preparing, we are encouraging all residents today to do exactly the same."

"A properly outfitted emergency preparedness kit is one of the most basic and important tools that everyone should have at home," said Flood Control District Executive Committee Chair Reagan Dunn. "Assembling basic items including a flashlight, batteries, a portable radio, non-perishable food, and drinking water can make a potentially hectic and frightening experience a little less so."

"People may think that flooding is something that only happens in the rural river valleys, but that’s just not true," said Flood Control District Supervisor Larry Gossett. "Even if you don’t live in a floodplain or near a river, you can be impacted by flooding. Flooding can – and does – occur in urban areas as well. It’s important that residents of our urban areas are prepared."

"Bee Cha, a Hmong Farm Program coordinator, showed us about true community commitment with his initiative to make copies of King County's Flood Preparedness video in his native language and distribute the translated DVDs to 90 households throughout the community in the Snoqualmie Valley," said King County Flood Control District Executive Committee member Kathy Lambert. "We also are preparing for the coming flood season with an updated flood warning system that allows anyone to sign up online for personal alerts by phone, text or email about specific river basins."

Assisting King County with preparedness messaging during the annual Flood Awareness Month kick-off event was a true expert: Randy Hutson, Regional Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross, who emphasized the importance of neighbor-to-neighbor contact when preparing for flooding and other emergencies.

Today’s presentation include a demonstration of how to develop a family emergency kit that includes essential items, including a flashlight, clean clothes, small amounts of food and water, any prescription medicines, a first-aid kit and items to keep young children entertained. 

King County offers everyone free access to KC Flood Alerts, an automated system that allows subscribers to receive customized alerts of potential flooding for any or all of King County’s six major river systems.

Immediate notifications about pending high water are sent to email, smart phone text or voicemail, providing subscribers with the maximum amount of warning about potential high water.

Find the KC Flood Alerts link at This website is a valuable preparedness resource, with all of the latest information about river levels and road conditions, plus weather reports and other critical links.

Other precautions that residents should consider include:

  • Buying flood insurance now; it takes 30 days for a policy to take effect, and a standard insurance policy will not cover flood damage. Contact your insurance agent or visit
  • Monitoring area news media for information when severe weather is predicted. Listen for alerts about evacuation routes, and monitor local road conditions and obey closure signs.
  • Minimizing flood damage by storing valuables and electronics higher, and by moving vehicles and equipment to high ground before flood waters rise.
  • Disposing of hazardous chemicals, such as lawn and gardening herbicides, at one of the county’s household hazardous waste sites to help reduce harmful contaminates in flood waters. Learn more at

When river levels rise to designated thresholds, King County's Flood Warning Center is opened and staffed around-the-clock to monitor river gages, weather data, dam operations and road closures. When warranted, staff are dispatched to address safety concerns, such as flooded roadways, and to check on flood control facilities.

King County staff mobilize and begin to gather, analyze and distribute flood warning information so that residents, businesses, property owners and emergency response officials can make important health and safety decisions.

In most locations, the County’s flood warning system provides at least two hours advance notice before floodwaters reach damaging levels. The center works in close coordination with the County's Road Services Division to give citizens up-to-date information on road closures.

During river flooding events, King County serves as a clearinghouse for information on flood conditions, operating a recorded message center with hourly updates of river gage readings, predicted flood crests, dam operations and other related information. The recorded message number is 206-296-8200 or 1-800-945-9263.

When the Flood Warning Center is open, citizens can directly contact King County staff with their flooding concerns and questions by calling 206-296-4535 or 1-800-768-7932.

Questions or assistance with flooding on smaller streams or urban drainage problems can be called in to 206-296-1900 during business hours, or 206-296-8100 after hours or on weekends.

For the seventh consecutive year, King County's efforts to protect people and property have earned it the highest rating of any county in the United States under Federal Emergency Management Agency's Community Rating System. This results in a 40 percent discount in flood insurance rates for policyholders in unincorporated King County, an average savings of $370 per year.

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King County Flood Control District logoThe King County Flood Control District is a special purpose government created to provide funding and policy oversight for flood protection projects and programs in King County.  The Flood Control District’s Board is composed of the members of the King County Council. The Water and Land Resources Division of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks develops and implements the approved flood protection projects and programs. Information is available at


Related information:

Flooding services and information