The Western Washington landscape is framed by the beauty of our natural water resources. However, when conditions are right, these water resources can turn into flooding hazards to our homes and property.
There are six major river systems that flow through King County: the Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Cedar, Sammamish, Green, and White rivers. Many communities in King County are located along the major river systems and in times of flooding these major rivers can be hazardous for residents who live and work in the geographic floodplains. Except for the Sammamish, each of these rivers descend from the crest of the Cascade Mountains to Puget Sound and are heavily influenced by snow and rain patterns in the mountains.
Combinations of heavy rain, melting snow, or other severe storm threats can make floodplain living dangerous. Floodplain residents in King County need to be aware of the risks posed to their community and incorporate these risks into their preparedness plans. Additionally, urban King County residents should be aware of hazards posed by urban flooding along city streets, including transportation problems and impacts to residential or business establishments.
Specific Events: Green River Basin - Howard Hanson Dam flood plan
Hazard-specific Preparedness Steps
- Learn the safest route from your home or business to high ground.
- Make arrangements for housing in the event you need to evacuate your home.
- Teach all family members how, where and when to turn off utilities.
- Plan for a meeting place outside of the hazard area.
- If it has been raining hard for several hours, or raining steadily for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
- Consider purchasing one more more pumps to use to remove water in and around your home during heavy rains or flooding.
- Prepare for "severe storms" and "power outages" which often accompany floods.
- Review your flood insurance policies for structure and contents coverage. Don't have insurance? Contact your insurance representative or visit www.floodsmart.gov.
- See General Preparedness Steps below for more disaster planning basics.
- Monitor your NOAA weather radio and keep a local radio and/or television on for information and emergency instructions.
- Have your disaster supply kit ready to go if told to evacuate.
- If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible. Delay or refusal to evacuate can jeopardize your safety, the safety of emergency responders, and hinder rescue efforts.
- Move your furniture and valuables to higher levels in your home if you have time.
- Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.
- Do not drive around barricades, they are there for your safety.
- Never drive through a flooded area. Cars can be carried away by just two feet (2') of water.
- Don't walk or wade through flood waters. You can be knocked off your feet by as little as six inches (6") of moving water.
Returning to Your Home After a Flood:
- Do not turn electricity back on if you smell gas or if the electric system has been flooded.
- Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.
- Do not handle electrical equipment in wet areas.
- Use flashlights (not lanterns, candles or matches) to check buildings containing natural gas, propane or gasoline.
- Follow directions from local officials regarding the safety of drinking water.
- Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by flood waters and throw out any foodstuffs.
General Preparedness Steps
- Have and practice a family disaster plan.
- Establish meeting places and phone numbers in case family members are separated.
- Identify an out-of-state contact to call during a major disaster or emergency; it will be easier to call out of the area if local lines are tied up.
- Make sure everyone knows when and how to call 9-1-1.
- Keep your disaster supply kits up to date. Make sure you have kits for your home, vehicle, work and school.
- Get a tone-alert NOAA Weather Radio to receive emergency notifications and up-to-date information and instructions.
- Teach all family members when, where and how to turn off utilities. Make sure you have the appropriate equipment, such as a wrench, handy.
- Make sure you understand the emergency plans and expectations at your child's school and your work.
- Preplan alternate transportation routes to and from work and other important destinations.
- Be sure to keep at least a half-tank of gas in your vehicle at all times; power outages often accompany disasters and gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
- Know ahead of time what you should do to help family, friends or neighbors who are elderly or have special needs.
See the following "related links" for more details on how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from this type of a disaster or emergency.