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Flood season is here – are you prepared?

Summary

While the past few weeks of moderate temperatures and little rain might indicate otherwise, flood season has arrived across the Puget Sound region, and flooding can affect communities with little or no notice.

Story

While the past few weeks of moderate temperatures and little rain might indicate otherwise, floodTake_Winter_By_Storm_sandbagging season has arrived across the Puget Sound region, and flooding can affect communities with little or no notice.

Heavy precipitation is to be expected this time of year. In fact, about half of western Washington’s annual rainfall comes during the months of November, December and January.

Rainfall can swiftly cause a stream or river to flood, damaging homes, properties and businesses. Knowing how to prepare for the possibility of flooding – before it happens – is an essential part of living in the Pacific Northwest.

Attendees at today’s ‘Take Winter By Storm’ sandbagging event were reminded by emcee and King County Sheriff John Urquhart that flooding is the most common and costly weather-related disaster in western Washington. King County, alone, has experienced 12 federally declared flood disasters since 1990. ”Flooding can occur along a river or stream at any time of the year,” said Urquhart. “It is important for everyone to learn the basic steps for protecting themselves and their property from flood waters.”

In an effort to encourage community preparedness, more than 20 emergency responders from King and Pierce counties (including Army Corps of Engineers, Bellevue Fire, Bellevue Police, Buckley Fire, City of Pacific Police, East Pierce Fire & Rescue, King County Sheriff’s Office, King County Office of Emergency Management, Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and Valley Regional Fire Authority) came together today for a friendly competition of human vs. machine in a sandbagging contest held along the White River in Pacific.

"While this contest offers a lighthearted approach to the preparedness topic, river flooding is no laughing matter,” said Karen Rich, Take Winter By Storm program manager. "Even one inch of water can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. When done right, sandbags can help protect lives and property by diverting water away from homes and businesses.”

Take Winter by Storm, a public awareness campaign to get western Washington residents prepared before bad weather strikes, offers the following tips on what residents can do to prepare themselves and their property for high water.

• Minimize flood damage by storing valuables and electronics higher, and by moving vehicles and equipment to high ground before flood waters rise.

• Dispose of hazardous chemicals such as lawn and gardening herbicides at a county household hazardous waste site to help reduce harmful contaminates in flood waters.

• Never drive around any road closure sign erected because of flooding; the number-one cause of deaths during flood events is the failure of drivers to heed road closure signs, resulting in them being swept away by floodwaters.

Many jurisdictions provide sandbag materials free of charge. Sandbag distribution information is available in King County by calling the Flood Warning Information Line 206-296-8200 or 800-945-9263 and in Pierce County by calling 253-798-2725.

Visit TakeWinterByStorm.org for more information and helpful resources, such as a downloadable preparedness and maintenance checklists and emergency contact cards.
About Take Winter By Storm