City to elevate flood-prone homes

August 2, 2011

The city Planning Department is considering a permit to allow crews to elevate flood-prone homes along Issaquah Creek.

Plans call for elevating four homes in the Sycamore neighborhood by about 4 feet above the 100-year floodplain. The project includes decks, stairs, landings, walks, foundations, crawlspaces and some minor modifications to the homes to account for the elevation.

The homes along Sycamore Drive Southeast and Southeast Sycamore Place qualified for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant program administered by the city.

The city also intends to elevate a home along Northwest Cherry Place.

In January 2009, floodwaters ruined houses in hard-hit Sycamore. Since the major flood, crews breached a Great Depression-era levee across the creek from the neighborhood to allow more room for the creek to meander during floods.

Dos and don’ts of disaster preparedness

April 26, 2011

By Katie Sutherland

Between highly publicized global issues, such as the current crisis in Japan, and local scares, like the 2002 Seattle earthquake, it seems that no one is ever ready for a disaster to strike. But when one inevitably does, make sure that you know exactly what to—and what not to do—so you can best handle the situation.

DO:

Have a supply of food and water. It’s important to keep your house and car stocked with water (every person needs one gallon per day) and nonperishable food if you’re ever stranded.
Keep irreplaceable documents safe. Valuable items, such as legal documents and passports, should be kept in a home safe or safety deposit box. Store other treasures like photo albums in waterproof containers.
Back up your computer. Any files, pictures, music, etc. can easily be backed up onto flash drives or other devices and stored safely.
Take inventory of all of your important belongings. This doesn’t include everything you own, just critical things like computers, televisions and cameras.
Follow instructions. Whether you are at school, work, or in a hotel, familiarize yourself with their escape plan. Look for the exits. If you don’t have a chance to do so, just stay calm and listen to teachers, firemen, or whoever is in charge.
Make a family plan. Be sure that all members of your family know how to exit your home and what to do after a disaster strikes. This may include taking care of pets and younger siblings, as well as grabbing necessary items, like medications and money. It’s key to update this plan annually.

DON’T:

Buy out the stores. While having a generator, plenty of batteries and other necessities are crucial, you don’t need to buy every single flashlight that Target has in stock.
Bring camping stoves indoors. In the case of a power outage, never use a BBQ grill or camping stove inside. This can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and possibly even death.
Panic! Being well prepared and having a plan will help keep you calm.

For more information on how to be prepared, visit fema.gov.

Preparedness is message for National Flood Safety Awareness Week

March 15, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. March 15, 2011

Flooding is a coast to coast threat in the United States year-round — including in Issaquah.

So, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is supporting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-sponsored National Flood Safety Awareness Week through Friday.

FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy said National Flood Safety Awareness Week is intended to highlight flood-related hazards, and what to do to preserve life and property.

“Flooding is this nation’s No. 1 natural disaster. You don’t need to live in a mapped floodplain to need flood insurance, and it just doesn’t pay to quibble over what side of a line on a flood map one lives on,” he said in a release.  “The fact is, more than 20 percent of all flood insurance claims are filed in low-to-moderate flood-risk areas, where flood insurance premiums can be a real bargain.”

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Red Cross Month is reminder to prepare for disasters

March 1, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. March 1, 2011

March is American Red Cross Month — a chance for families and businesses to update disaster plans, and build or restock emergency kits.

Every year, the American Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties brings together 2,500 people to care for neighbors, train 100,000 people in life-saving skills and respond to emergencies about once every other day.

FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy lauded the Red Cross for providing help, hope and healing if disaster strikes — and praised the nonprofit organization for also offering CPR, automated external defibrillator, first aid and emergency preparedness training.

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Learn fire safety tips during National Burn Awareness Week

February 5, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 5, 2011

National Burn Awareness Week starts Sunday, and emergency management officials urged residents to use the event to prevent fire-related injuries.

FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy said the week makes for the perfect calendar observance to focus on preventing fires and protecting children. National Burn Awareness Week runs through Feb. 12.

“Children under the age of 5 account for 52 percent of all child fire deaths, and home fires tend to spike in winter months, placing younger children and toddlers at even greater risk,” Murphy said in a release.

FEMA estimates fires injures 18,300 Americans each year, and more than 3,500 people die in fires. Children age 14 and younger make up 10 to 15 percent of all fire deaths.

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Policies limit flood damage

January 4, 2011

City has spent more than a decade on flood projects

Issaquah Creek sloshed into neighborhoods and onto streets in early December, but city and county leaders credit land-use policies for helping to limit damage from flooding and landslides.

Because much of Issaquah is located in a floodplain, officials can only do so much to limit flooding. Though the risk remains, the city has made strides since the 1996 flood to upgrade creek buffers and shore up bridges and other infrastructure to withstand floods.

The process has included purchasing and removing homes in the floodplain, plus buying undeveloped floodplain lots for preservation. Read more

Issaquah braces for rain-soaked winter, creek floods

November 2, 2010

City completed projects to reduce risk since last flood

Mike Crossley (yellow vest) works in the HAM radio communication station during a Community Emergency Response Team flood drill. By Autumn Monahan

January rain turned placid Issaquah Creek into a debris-filled torrent in early 2009 — and emergency planners hope fresh memories of the flood prompt residents to prepare for the rain-soaked winter on the horizon.

Long before fall rain blanketed the area, Issaquah and King County emergency planners had prepared to respond to Issaquah Creek flooding.

Meteorologists predict La Niña conditions — colder-than-normal temperatures and greater-than-normal rain- and snowfall — in the months ahead. The combination has emergency planners concerned about rain-gorged Issaquah Creek and the potential for disaster.

“If you look at Issaquah Creek now, you think, ‘Oh, that’s a nice, pretty little creek.’ It can turn into a roaring monster pretty quick,” Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said last week.

The city has completed a series of flood-control projects in the 21 months since the most recent flood, including a high-profile floodplain restoration effort at Squak Valley Park North.

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Council prioritizes city projects

June 22, 2010

The city plans to start construction on the Issaquah Creek-area parks, install a fire-suppression system for the 911 center at the Issaquah Police Department and replace permit-tracking software for the municipal Building Department in the year ahead.

City Council members approved the Capital Improvement Plan — a sweeping program to update facilities, equipment and roads during the next six years. City staffers update the document each year, and then council members prioritize projects for funding and completion. The council approved the plan in a unanimous vote June 7.

Other top priorities include developing a disaster-recovery plan for information technology and pursuing a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant for flood mitigation.

Cities asked to restrict shoreline development

May 18, 2010

The federal government has called for stricter environmental standards along Lake Sammamish, prompting protests from officials in Issaquah and other cities along the lake.

The standards — outlined in a March e-mail from the Federal Emergency Management Agency — aim to limit development within 250 feet of the Lake Sammamish shoreline. But municipal officials said the proposed change could limit public agencies and homeowners alike from building along the scenic lake. Even road construction — such as widening East Lake Sammamish Parkway, for instance — might be impacted by the proposal.

Under the proposal, landowners within 250 feet of the lake could not increase a building in size by more than 10 percent. The measure also aims to limit property owners from adding more than 10 percent of paved roads or roofing within the buffer.

The e-mail originated at the FEMA office in Bothell.

Citing a 2008 National Marine Fisheries Service report, the FEMA message recommended broad standards to restrict new development within 250 feet of fish-bearing lakes and tributaries within floodplains across the Puget Sound region.

FEMA prepared the proposed regulations in response to the report. The report said the National Flood Insurance Program influences development along lake shorelines and therefore has a direct impact on shoreline habitat.

The report said several species — including salmon and orca varieties, and a steelhead species — could be jeopardized or impacted if officials did not adopt the shoreline standards.

But the report did not include Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon among the species in trouble, although environmentalists and scientists said development along Lake Sammamish and tributary creeks has pushed the fish to the brink of extinction.

Issaquah and Sammamish officials, alarmed at the possible implications for private and civic development along the lake, pushed back against the proposal.

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Plan ahead for time change overnight Sunday

March 13, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. March 13, 2010

Prepare to spring forward: daylight-saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday.

Set clocks one hour ahead before bedtime and plan accordingly. Many computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices will make the adjustment automatically.

The time change also serves as a reminder to change smoke alarm batteries. Public safety experts recommend changing the batteries once a year and testing smoke detectors monthly. Most battery-powered smoke detectors will chirp as the battery weakens.

Dennis Hunsinger, acting regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the March ritual of making homes safer from fire is also a great opportunity to review disaster response plans and restock disaster kits.

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