National Weather Service changes flood warnings for Issaquah

September 24, 2011

NEW — 11 a.m. Sept. 24, 2011

Less than a year after conflicting flood information confused Issaquah residents during a December deluge, the National Weather Service plans to adjust flood warning levels for Issaquah Creek.

The agency plans to base flood warnings on the creek’s flow, rather than height. The agency plans to make the adjustments Oct. 1.

The switch is meant to avoid confusion between National Weather Service data and the city’s flood warning system.

The city bases warnings on real-time data from a gauge upstream from Issaquah in Hobart. The system can usually provide a few hours of lead time before flooding impacts Issaquah.

The data collected by the National Weather Service comes from a downstream gauge near the creek mouth in Lake Sammamish State Park.

Read more

City, King County changed disaster preparedeness since 9/11 attacks

September 13, 2011

The decade since 9/11 has reshaped how Issaquah and King County leaders prepare for disasters and manage the response to emergencies.

The attacks also meant increased attention — and dollars — for emergency management efforts, although local officials said the initial focus on counterterrorism sidelined plans about other dangers, such as floods and earthquakes.

“All of the sudden there was a big focus on emergency management in general. That was good news from an emergency management perspective,” said Bret Heath, city public works operations and emergency management director. “The bad news is that it shifted from all hazards to almost strictly terrorism immediately following 9/11.”

Issaquah planners focused on more common emergencies — floods, snowstorms, windstorms and the like — in the years before the attacks.

Read more

Issaquah, Tibbetts water quality is good, but concerns remain

August 23, 2011

Michael Friel, 10, brushes dirt off a curb, as his dad Mike (left), Molly Caskey and her son Ian, 10, glue the back of a Puget Sound Starts Here tile to glue next to a storm drain in the Issaquah Highlands. By Greg Farrar

The creeks crisscrossing Issaquah remain in good condition, despite increased construction nearby, a population boom in the surrounding watershed and, alongside both developments, more potential for pollution.

Read more

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.

Memorial Day weekend serves a water safety reminder

May 28, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 28, 2011

Rivers make for inherently dangerous places to play — especially in the springtime as water flows high, swift and cold.

King County public safety officials and emergency responders stand on extra alert for spring and summer, because unusually heavy amounts of mountain snow is melting into local rivers. In addition, a tumultuous winter flood season changed river channels and reoriented logs.

The conditions create a recipe for river recreation tragedy.

“King County rivers are running fast and cold and are always extremely dangerous this time of year,” King County Sheriff Sue Rahr said in a statement. “But 2011 could bring even higher risks. We want to get the word out ahead of the Memorial Day weekend and before the next hot weather forecast that people should stay out of the rivers at this time.”

Read more

State removes hurdle for cities in need of disaster assistance

May 24, 2011

Floodwaters inundated Snoqualmie in January 2009 and, even as nearby Issaquah dried out from a major flood, officials sent equipment to the other flood-plagued city.

Issaquah and other local governments previously needed to negotiate a patchwork of interlocal agreements among local governments, law enforcement agencies and emergency service providers in order to receive aid from other jurisdictions during a disaster.

Under legislation signed last month, asking for help from other agencies in Washington is simpler for Issaquah and other local governments.

Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said the measure allows local governments to request aid from other jurisdictions in Washington, even if the parties do not have interlocal agreements in place.

“Prior to this, it was easier to bring resources in from out of state than it was from other counties,” he said.

The measure could serve a crucial need during a regional disaster, such as a major earthquake.

“Typically, during those types of emergencies, all of the jurisdictions in King County are in the same boat, if you will,” Heath said. “We’re not in a position where we can share resources with each other, because we’re all maxed out. So, we need to bring resources in from outside.”

Read more

State shores up King County Flood Control District funding

May 10, 2011

King County leaders praised state legislators and Gov. Chris Gregoire last week for supporting a measure to shore up funding for the King County Flood Control District, the agency responsible for flood-protection policies, programs and projects.

Gregoire signed a measure May 5 to protect funding for the district. The bill exempts the district from the statewide property rate tax cap by protecting up to 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The exemption is in effect from next year until 2017.

Until the governor signed the measure, the district faced a steep drop-off in funding due to the decline in housing values and a state cap on property tax rates.

“We worked together as a region to preserve this important tool that will protect people and businesses throughout King County from floods,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “I am pleased to see the overwhelming support in the state Legislature for this bill, and I thank Gov. Gregoire for signing it today.”

The district collects 11 cents per $1,000 in assessed value and uses the dollars to fund flood-control efforts.

Read more

State shores up funding for King County Flood Control District

May 6, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 6, 2011

King County leaders praised state legislators and Gov. Chris Gregoire for supporting a measure to shore up funding for the King County Flood Control District, the agency responsible for flood-protection policies, programs and projects.

Gregoire signed a measure Thursday to protect funding for the district. The bill exempts the district from the statewide property rate tax cap by protecting up to 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The exemption is in effect from next year until 2017.

Until the governor signed the measure, the district faced a steep drop-off in funding due to the decline in housing values and a state cap on property tax rates.

Read more

Citizens help others prepare for disasters

April 5, 2011

In Issaquah, a city of more than 30,000 people, only a handful of the population has completed the most rigorous training to respond to disasters.

The unfolding disaster in Japan — caused after a magnitude-9 earthquake rocked the island nation early last month — renewed attention on emergency preparedness on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Even in a city as focused on preparedness as Issaquah, some gaps remain in the system.

The city has spearheaded lessons in Map Your Neighborhood — a program to coordinate disaster recovery on a block-by-block basis and identify special skills, such as medical training, among residents — for dozens of neighborhoods, although less then 300 people had completed the more rigorous program, Community Emergency Response Team training, by mid-March.

City and independent emergency planners said the numbers belie the effect of trained responders, especially as CERT members start to educate family members and neighbors in disaster preparedness and response.

Read more

Red Cross reminds people in flood-prone areas to prepare

March 30, 2011

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.

Read more

« Previous PageNext Page »