KITTITAS – The Board of County Commissioners and Kittitas County Flood Control Zone District urge all county residents to be prepared for the upcoming flood season.
Recently Kittitas County and City of Ellensburg crews were clearing sediment and debris from Whiskey Creek at Fifth Avenue in preparation of potential flood conditions commonly experienced in the winter and spring months.
The county is urging residents to continue to be aware of potential flood and weather conditions. The National Weather Service (NWS) releases weather alerts to provide you with advanced notification of potential flooding. Flood watches are released when flooding is possible, and you should remain alert and prepare for the potential need to evacuate.
Flood warnings are released when a flood is reported or is imminent. During a warning you must act quickly to safely evacuate if you are in the danger area. These weather alerts are released through the internet, the media and NOAA Weather Radio. There are many other ways to remain alert to potential flooding, such as observing the NWS river level forecasts. There are links to many helpful websites on the County’s Flood Warning System webpage.
All county and city residents should take steps to protect their property from flood impacts, even if they don’t live within a regulated floodplain. Because of the county’s vast network of streams and ditches, flooding can unexpectedly occur almost anywhere.
Prepare for potential flooding
The following steps can be taken to prevent or reduce impacts from flooding:
Know your risk. To determine if your property is in a known risk area, visit http://www.floodsmart.gov/, call your local jurisdiction or the County’s Floodplain Manager at 509-962-7523, or view the County’s online mapping service. Floodwater doesn’t stay within defined risk areas, so be aware of streams and ditches that could potentially flood your property.
Check your insurance coverage. Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flooding. Consider purchasing a flood insurance policy. Flood insurance is available for all properties, not just those within a defined risk area. If your property is located outside of the defined risk area, you may qualify for a reduced rate Preferred Risk Policy. Contact your homeowner’s insurance agent for more information, but remember that flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period so you should purchase it sooner rather than later.
Keep drainage systems clean. When culverts or ditches are plugged, water backs up and becomes unpredictable. Instead of flowing down the ditch, water may begin flowing towards your home. Landowners should ensure that ditches are free of debris and culverts are unplugged. Tarp dams should be removed from ditches when not in use. Do not dump or throw anything in ditches or streams. During a flood, these items can be washed away and plug culverts and channels.
Prepare your property. Do not build or store items within the floodplain unless they are properly elevated, anchored and permitted by your local jurisdiction. Some items around your house, such as storage sheds, are easily shifted by floodwaters and must be anchored using an approved method. HVAC systems, hot water heaters and electrical panels should be elevated above flood levels. Install a backflow valve in your septic system to prevent sewage backing up into your home.
Secure your propane tank. Propane tanks are very susceptible to damage from floodwaters if not properly secured. Even underground tanks can become buoyant when surrounded by saturated soils. Above ground tanks are subject to buoyancy and the forces of flowing water and debris. Tanks should be securely anchored to the ground using tie downs, anchor bolts or earth augurs. The type of anchoring is dependent on specific site conditions, such as soil type and the buoyancy forces that will be exerted on the tank. If you have questions about the secureness of your propane tank, contact your Fire Marshal or propane provider.
Minimize flood damage. Store valuables and electronics higher. Keep an inventory of household items for insurance purposes. Store copies of irreplaceable financial and family documents in a safe place including titles, tax records, deeds, wills, birth and marriage certificates, stock and bond certificates, trust agreements, passports and insurance policies.
Put together a disaster kit and disaster plan. Keep water, food, batteries, flashlight, battery powered radio, first aid kit, and any other essential items on hand, such as pet food, medication and diapers. For the disaster plan, designate an out-of-town contact. Be sure every member of your family has the contact’s phone number to call in case of an emergency. Figure out the best routes to take in case of evacuation. For more information, visit http://www.ready.gov/.
For more information on flooding or floodplain regulations within Kittitas County, visit the County’s flood information website http://www.co.kittitas.wa.us/public-works/flood/default.aspx or contact Karen Hodges at 509-962-7523. You can also view the 2019_FloodAwarenessProclamation.pdf