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La Niña’s back: Prepare now for Snoqualmie River flooding
If you blinked, you probably missed the summer. A cool and rainy ‘dry’ season made for fewer Snoqualmie Valley tourists, slimmer local pocketbooks—even a potential pumpkin shortage shaping up for fall.
The weather fun may be just starting. Last week, forecasters with the National Weather Service announced that La Niña is back.
The last time the region went through this cool, wet weather pattern was in the winter of 2008 and 2009. Lowland residents will recall that season as the one with a double dose of flooding. A November 2008 flood soaked the Valley, and the one that came the following January demolished local farms and cost millions in damages.
Local geography and hydrography are little changed in 2010—Puget Sound Energy’s lowering of the Falls dam is in progress—so if the Valley gets the same kind of bad weather this fall that we saw two years ago, I fear for the region’s economy and for the safety and well-being of folks in harm’s way.
Now, before the serious rains arrive, is the time to plan and prepare. The following are basic flood preparations that anyone can make:
• Designate two meeting places: just outside your home and outside your neighborhood. Know the addresses and phone numbers for both places.
• Find a friend or family member at least 100 miles away to be your family’s contact person.
• Make sure every member of your family knoww your phone number and has a cell phone, coins or a prepaid phone card to call an emergency contact.
• Keep your car filled up with gas, and put an emergency kit with tools, windshield scraper and extra food, water and warm clothing inside.
• Buy flood insurance. Review your policy for endorsements for back-up of sewers and drains. Remember that it can take about a month for purchased insurance to come into effect.
• Move heirlooms and irreplaceable items to upper floors, safe from flooding.
• Conduct a home hazard hunt to minimize damage to your home.
• Know your child’s school or daycare disaster plan and update your children’s emergency contact information.
• Teach family members to text message. Texts can often get around network disruptions in the event of a disaster, when a phone call might not go through.
• Sign up for flood alerts. Quick alerts can be found on floodzilla.com or via King County at green.kingcounty.gov/FloodAlertSystem. Radio news stations can also supply detailed disaster information.
• Know how to get sandbags. Locally, sandbags are made available through public works agencies. Call North Bend Public Works at (425) 888-0486 and Snoqualmie Public Works at (425) 831-4919. Carnation’s department can be reached at (425) 333-4484. In King County, the flood warning center will notify residents of sandbag sites. Call the center at (206) 296-8200, and dial option 3 for sandbag information.
Last season, we lucked out. Maybe the flooding won’t come this winter. But if forecasters say it’s going to get wet, we ignore them at our peril. The more organized and prepared the Valley is, the better chance we have to ride out the storm.
• E-mail Editor Seth Truscott at email@example.com.