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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Meteorologists issue flood watch for Wednesday through Friday

March 29, 2011

NEW — 11:30 a.m. March 29, 2011

Meteorologists issued a flood watch for East King County and much of Western Washington from Wednesday afternoon through Friday, as a strong storm system rolls in from the Pacific Ocean.

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.

Forecasters expect the strong Pacific storm to bring heavy rain to the region in the coming days. The increased rainfall could cause increased flows in Issaquah Creek and other waterways.

Meteorologists said a storm band is expected to stall over the area for 24 to 48 hours and dump heavy rain. In the meantime, the freezing level is expected to rise to 7,000 to 9,000 during the same period.

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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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