City reviews last flood, prepares for future crises

November 3, 2009

David Bramwell (left) shovels sand into a bag held by Bruce Wendt in a sandbagging practice run for CERT volunteers last week. Courtesy of Brenda Bramwell

David Bramwell (left) shovels sand into a bag held by Bruce Wendt in a sandbagging practice run for CERT volunteers last week. Courtesy of Brenda Bramwell

Floodwaters caused about $1 million worth of damage and left behind piles of debris and muck when Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks overflowed in January, but the disaster also readied emergency planners for the next flood.

The next time flood waters rise, volunteers will fan out across flood-prone neighborhoods and city officials will unleash a deluge of information about water levels, road closures and recovery efforts. Many of the procedures were tested during what officials characterized as a successful response to the major flood in mid-January.

But the next flood could occur as early as the next several weeks, and officials said work remains to be done to prepare Issaquah for another natural disaster. On Oct. 27, City Council members received a briefing about the response to the January flood and preparation efforts for the upcoming flood season.

City Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Campbell said readings from a pair of flood gauges did not correlate with the damage caused by floodwaters. A U.S. Geological Survey gauge downstream on Issaquah Creek appeared inaccurate, Campbell said. The gauge indicated about 2,500 cubic feet per second, Campbell said, but flood damage was similar to the 3,500 cubic feet per second estimate from the last major flood to hit Issaquah, in 1996. Read more

Official: Green River flooding would impact Issaquah, region

October 29, 2009

NEW — 3:27 p.m. Oct. 29, 2009

If the Green River swells from fall and winter rains, flooding could snarl traffic for Issaquah commuters, disrupt deliveries of food and fuel, and — a more remote possibility — cause local sewers to back up as floodwaters overwhelm the regional system.

Though the river winds through Auburn, Kent and Tukwila, the human and economic toll from flooding could reach Issaquah, emergency planners told City Council members Tuesday night. A Tukwila emergency planner offered a frank assessment of the potential impact of Green River floods.

Authorities expect the Green will flood because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allow water to flow through the Howard Hanson Dam. The earthen abutment adjacent to the dam was weakened by severe weather last winter, and engineers worry the structure could fail if rain swelled the reservoir behind the dam. Read more

Postcards from Iraq

March 16, 2009

National Guardsman corresponds from streets of Baghdad

Command Sgt. Michael Sangren says hello to an Iraqi youngster during a school visit in February. Contributed

Command Sgt. Michael Sangren says hello to an Iraqi youngster during a school visit in February. Contributed

When I volunteered to come to Iraq with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a mobilized Army reservist, I was wondering what I would be doing.

Being an Army Corps civilian, I knew my civilian job; however, I was coming to Iraq as a command sergeant major. Stateside district offices have no enlisted soldiers; however, in Iraq, districts do have soldiers. So, I was faced with the same question as many people who come to Iraq: What the heck am I getting into?

In a military unit, I am the senior enlisted person and my task is to take care of soldiers. However, here in Gulf Region South, only 25 percent of the district personnel are military, and of that, only 30 percent are enlisted.

It is far from a piece of cake, but is without doubt the most exciting and important job I have had in 37 years of military service. The civilians are volunteers, who have nice comfortable jobs in the States, but have given up the comforts of home to come halfway around the world, into an environment totally unfamiliar to them.

They’re also the friendliest and most outgoing group of people I’ve ever worked or lived with — always upbeat and willing to help with anything. They’re also extremely professional and mission focused — we only have about 100 civilians and our workload is about 139 active projects, so everybody has to do his or her job, plus.

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