Snoqualmie residents warned to be ready

SNOQUALMIE _ During the past 10 years local residents have

submitted more than $5 million in insurance claims after a swollen

Snoqualmie River overran its banks and flooded neighborhoods in 1990, 1995

and 1996.

City officials are worried that with three rather uneventful rainy

seasons, homeowners may not be prepared for another flood. So to help educate

residents about how they can protect their families and homes from high

waters, they have organized an educational workshop for Thursday night at

City Hall.

"November is the time for flooding," said Rhonda Montgomery,

permit administrator for the city. "It's happened historically in

November. We've pretty much skated by the past three years." She added that

unlike recent years, when the El Nino and La Nina weather systems limited

the amount of rain in the Puget Sound region, forecasters are calling for a

wetter-than-normal fall and winter.

It is the first time the city has organized a workshop for

residents. Montgomery said city staff will be on hand for the event, which runs from

6 to 8 p.m., as will representatives from King County Red Cross, the state

Department of Ecology, the Federal Emergency Management Agency

and the Army Corps of Engineers. Those representatives will address

specific questions residents have and provide informational material.

"It's more of a drop-in [workshop], and we'll have display boards up

so people can look at those, and there'll be brochures, Montgomery

said. "We're just hoping it will be an opportunity to hand out some

information and help [residents] get prepared.

"Even if one person's house gets flooded, it's devastating," she said.

Many of the discussions will center around the National Flood

Insurance Program, which provides insurance to homeowners across the

United States. According to Montgomery, there are approximately 485

flood-insurance policies in Snoqualmie. The city has 630 homes and 36

commercial buildings in its floodplain.

She said an average policy costs about $520 per year, and that

includes a 20 percent discount granted by the federal government. Using a

community-rating system, homeowners can receive discounts on their

flood-insurance policies if a city takes steps to limit damage caused by

flooding. Rates for insurance policies depend on where a home lies in the city's

floodplain or floodway.

Snoqualmie received its discount after installing an emergency

warning system, moving the police station to Snoqualmie Ridge, which places it

out of the floodplain, and helping to elevate buildings one foot above

flood elevation. In addition the city sends newsletters to residents and

compiles an annual floodplain management progress report.

Also on Thursday, Snoqualmie Mayor Randy "Fuzzy" Fletcher

will proclaim November as "Flood Awareness Month" and take part in a

media event that will discuss hazard mitigation. The event, which is open to

the public, is scheduled to include a tour of a house that has been elevated

to keep it above flood waters. The media event will begin at 3:30 p.m.

Montgomery said the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has allowed

the city to assist in elevating 39 homes and buy out 10 properties.

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