Raising the stakes against flooding
October 2, 2008 · Updated 2:28 PM
SNOQUALMIE _ Tired of replacing their furnace and water heater
after floods swamped the city in 1990, 1995 and 1996, Roger and
Rachelle Cleven decided to try and even the odds against Mother Nature.
They raised their house 7 feet off the ground.
They had a little help, though. The couple was one of several local
residents who took part in the city's hazard mitigation grant program.
Since the inception of the program in the mid-1990s, Snoqualmie has
received $2.68 million from the state Emergency Management Division to
elevate 39 homes and buy out 10 properties.
Roger bought the house at 8060 Falls Ave. S.E. in 1987, in part
because it had withstood previous floods.
"I knew when I moved in here that until then it [flood waters] had
never gotten in the house, and that's what helped sell it for me," he said.
In 1990, that changed.
"We had about 1 1/2 feet in the house, which was good because
some people had 5 feet," Roger said of the 1990 flood.
After more floods hit the city in 1995 and 1996, Roger saw a
bulletin at the post office about the hazard mitigation grant program, and he
and Rachelle decided to apply.
The Clevens received the funding to raise their home in 1997. Roger
said a hydraulic lift was used to slowly elevate the home 7 feet in the air.
The couple was out of their home for about a month as crews worked to build
up the foundation. Then the newly created foundation was matched to
the existing exterior of the home.
In previous years, Roger said, "Anytime you see that first drop
[of rain] come down in November, you say, `Uh, oh, here it comes.'" But
with his house raised, he feels more at ease.
"It's peace of mind that it's not going to happen again," he said.
The Clevens' home was featured Nov. 9 during an event in
which Snoqualmie Mayor Randy "Fuzzy" Fletcher proclaimed November to
be "Flood Awareness Month." According to Permit Administrator
Rhonda Montgomery, there are 630 homes and 36 commercial buildings in the
"The city of Snoqualmie is striving to improve our quality of life
for our residents both in and out of the floodplain," Fletcher said.
"We continue to look for grants and other ways to improve
One way the city accomplishes that is by participating in the
National Flood Insurance Program's community rating system. Montgomery,
who oversees Snoqualmie's participation in the rating system, said each city
enrolled in the program takes steps to reduce problems caused by
flooding and to increase flood awareness. Those efforts generate a discount
on flood insurance policies for residents.
Snoqualmie residents receive a 20 percent discount in flood
insurance, which must be purchased separately from homeowner's insurance,
because the city installed an early warning system, relocated the Police Division
out of the floodplain to Snoqualmie Ridge, sent newsletters to residents
concerning flooding issues and prepared annual progress reports on
floodplain management, among other things.
"We look forward to another year of not having a flood," Fletcher
said after issuing the proclamation, "but we need to be prepared if one
happens." And he urged more residents to buy flood insurance through the
federal program. The average cost of flood insurance in Snoqualmie is $520
a year, depending on where the resident lives in the city's floodplain or
Carl Cook, mitigation director for the Federal Emergency
Management Agency's Region 10, which includes Snoqualmie, said the city has been
a leader in addressing flooding concerns.
"If there's anyplace that has not been in denial about flooding
problems, it's Snoqualmie," he said.
"The [residents] here have recognized there is a flooding problem, and
they've bought flood insurance, and it has paid off."
An official with the state Emergency Management Division said
by elevating houses, Snoqualmie's future won't be threatened by high waters.
"The city of Snoqualmie is taking steps to become a
disaster-resistant community," said Martin Best,
whose office approves funds for the hazard mitigation grant program. "We
can look out the windows from the city of Snoqualmie and say we did the