Red Cross reminds people in flood-prone areas to prepare

March 30, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 3 p.m. March 30, 2011

The strong storm system rolling across Western Washington prompted the local American Red Cross chapter to prepare for potential flooding.

“The forecast for the next few days include a flood watch for local rivers with heavy rainfall so people should be aware of the possibility of urban flooding,” Susan Pelaez, director of preparedness and community engagement for the organization, said in a release. “Drivers should use caution when out on the road.”

Meteorologists issued a flood watch for East King County and much of Western Washington through Friday.

Under a flood watch, favorable conditions for flooding exist, but flooding is not imminent or occurring. National Weather Service meteorologists said resident should monitor forecasts and prepare to act quickly if a flood warning is issued.

Red Cross planners offered flood-safety tips to help residents prepare for flooding:

  • The organization said 80 percent of flooding deaths occur in vehicles. If you come upon a barricade, turn around and use another route. Do not drive through floodwaters, because the road could be washed out underneath.
  • If you are driving and your car stalls, abandon your vehicle and head to higher ground on foot.
  • If you come upon flood waters or a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and use another route. Never try to walk, swim, or drive through swift water. If water is moving swiftly, even water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. You may not be able to see on the surface how fast flood water is moving, or see holes or submerged debris.
  • Never play around high water, creek and stream banks, storm drains, ditches, ravines or culverts in flooded and recently flooded areas. The soaked banks often become unstable due to heavy rainfall and can suddenly give way, tossing you into rapidly moving water.
  • Be aware of flood hazards. Floods can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges, and scour new channels. Floodwaters can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet and often carry a deadly cargo of debris. Heavy rains can also trigger catastrophic debris slides.
  • Regardless of how a flood or flash flood occurs, the rule for being safe is simple: Head for higher ground and stay away from floodwaters. Even a shallow depth of fast-moving flood water produces more force than most people imagine. The most dangerous thing you can do is to try walking, swimming or driving through flood waters.

Residents can receive real-time Issaquah Creek flood data from a flood gauge near Hobart. Planners use the gauge to determine flood phases in Issaquah.

If creeks in the city reach a flood phase, emergency planners post information to the city website, emergency information line, the city radio station at 1700-AM and on Channel 21, the municipal access channel. Call the emergency information line at 837-3028.

Homeowners should keep storm drains near residences clear of fallen leaves and other debris. Call the city Public Works Operations Department at 837-3470 to address larger storm water issues.

King County Road Services Division planners advised motorists to be alert for road-related problems. Motorists can track road conditions on routes in rural and unincorporated areas during inclement conditions.

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