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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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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Residents dig out from February snowstorm

March 1, 2011

Camden Jeske (left), 9, and his brother Mason, 6, try different strategies for a successful snowball fight with their dad Terry on Feb. 24 at their home south of downtown Issaquah. By Greg Farrar

Snowflakes, egged on by a relentless drumbeat from TV meteorologists, started to fall in Issaquah just as the afternoon commute started in earnest Feb. 22.

Unlike the pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm responsible for gridlock on roads and mass transit in Issaquah and throughout the region, planners said the late February snowfall did not cause quite so many headaches.

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Crews shift focus to freezing conditions on roads

February 24, 2011

A city snowplow clears a street in the Overdale Park neighborhood in North Issaquah on Thursday morning. By Bernadette Anne

NEW — 11:45 a.m. Feb. 24, 2011

Temperatures should plummet into the teens Thursday night, raising the threat of freezing conditions on roads in Issaquah and surrounding areas.

In Issaquah, all roads remain open. Municipal road crews plowed and sanded high-priority routes overnight and continue to work on lower-priority streets.

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Motorists urged to use caution on morning commute

February 24, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 24, 2011

Issaquah-area residents awoke to deep snow in some spots and icy roads Thursday, as transportation officials urged commuters to use caution on the morning trek — or to stay home altogether.

In Issaquah, all roads remain open. Municipal road crews plowed and sanded high-priority routes overnight and continue to work on lower-priority streets.

Crews focus on priority routes and then start to clear side streets as conditions allow.

Motorists can check up-to-the-minute road conditions on real-time traffic cameras installed throughout Issaquah.

King County Road Services Division crews also deployed for 24-hour operations to combat snow and ice.

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Nisqually earthquake anniversary jolts memories

February 22, 2011

Issaquah is more prepared now than during 2001 roller

Then-Skyline High School senior Sean Edwards (left) and then-4-year-old sister Quinn leaned over to look inside the cracked asphalt Feb. 28, 2001, as dad Maury looks along a crack in the 1400 block of East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. File

The ground started to shake as Bret Heath stood upstairs at the old municipal public works office — the steel-frame and metal-clad structure used nowadays as the parks department maintenance facility — and in seconds, the building rolled, like a ship tossed on ocean swells.

“I remember thinking, ‘I wonder if this building is going to hold together,’” the longtime Public Works Operations and emergency management director said.

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Forecasters issue flood watch as rain continues to fall

January 15, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 15, 2011

National Weather Service meteorologists urged residents to prepare for possible flooding as rain-sodden conditions continue throughout the region Saturday.

Forecasters in Seattle issued a flood watch through Monday afternoon for most Western Washington counties. The latest moisture-laden system could drop 3 to 6 inches of rain.

Precipitation — more rainfall and a brief-but-intense snowstorm — saturated the ground throughout from Tuesday onward.

Issaquah emergency planners reminded residents to keep storm drains near homes clear of fallen leaves and other debris. Call the city Public Works Operations Department at 837-3470 to address larger storm water issues.

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

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Issaquah braces for Tuesday afternoon snowstorm

January 11, 2011

NEW — 8:30 a.m. Jan. 11, 2011

Snow is forecast to start falling after 4 p.m. Tuesday — just in time for the afternoon commute.

National Weather Service forecasters said the Issaquah area could receive 1 to 3 inches of snow Tuesday night. The chance of precipitation is 90 percent.

Residents should also brace for strong winds, including gusts up to 39 mph.

The weather service has issued a winter weather advisory for the area from 4 p.m. Tuesday until 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Meteorologists said the temperature and the snow level should rise Wednesday. Expect rainy conditions for the rest of the day and Wednesday night.

Issaquah School District schools operate on a modified schedule Tuesday to prepare for the storm.

In the meantime, motorists can check up-to-the-minute road conditions on real-time traffic cameras installed throughout Issaquah.

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