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The Issaquah Press
Issaquah, Washington
November 4, 2009     The Issaquah Press
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November 4, 2009

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A6 - WEDNESDA~ NOVEMBER 4, 2009 THE ISSAQUAH PRESS Regional Public Information Network serving three counties. "We have a really diverse selec- tion of communication tools that I PROM PAGE A1 can use," Monahan said. "We can ~ pick those tools as needed, cal~d for real=time flood gauge depending on what the incident dante be: duded on the city s " , Channel 21. The data was inchd- IS'campbell said a key plan for ed on the city Web site. future disasters has been pre- Kappler said how the January pared: Officials will step in to help flood caught officials by surprise. He recalled that City Council members and Mayor Ava Frisinger were gathered at a breakfast with legislators on the morning when rain swelled Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks. "We really didn't know what was going on as well as we should have known," Kappler said. Brealdng news As Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks edged higher, city officials rolled out a widespread effort to alert residents to potential danger. Flood information was broad- cast through the city radio station, Web site, Channel 21 and a Monahan, who logged more than 24 uninterrupted hours on the job during the crisis. "Autumn's not going to be here for 24 hours this time," Campbell said. Volunteers served as a crucial piece of the response to the January flood. Monahan said the city would rely on volunteers dur- ing future crises as well. In late October, about 50 Community Emergency Response Team volunteers distributed almost 300 fliers to residents of flood-prone areas. Through CENT training, volun- teers are taught to identify neigh- bars with special skills -- doctors, City Surface Water Manager YOU SHDUB) KNOW K~ Ritland said the city applied f~i~'~ $1.5 million FEMA grant to Crews delivered a desert's [ help business- and homeowners worth of sand as Issaquah and ] elevate structures in low-lying ~bbetts creeks swelled in January. I areas. The project would involve Workers delivered 15,,flOOf i:/I elevating the first floors of houses in the : st:herry Place and bags and 450~s ~!~'~ ::~ :i ISycambre fi ig]fiJorhoods. Gilman Trucks made 68 deliveries to 60 Square would be included in the locations around Issaquah. Watch a flood preparedness video on a section of the city Web site dedicated to flooding, www.ci.issaquah.wa.us/f/ood. Follow the link for =Sandbags." Join Issaquah's Community Emergency Response Team to help residents before, during and alter floods. Register for CERT training at www.issaquahcitizencorps.com. The city spent more than $10 million for crews to replace nine bridges on Issaquah Creek, the East Fork of Issaquah Creek and Tibbetts Creek in the decade project as well. Workers would also install specialized doors and windows designed to withstand floodwaters and seal utility lines to prevent water from seeping inside buildings. Ritland said Issaquah has a good chance at the money because other communities' applications were rejected. No city dollars would be used for the project; local property owners would shoulder a portion of the cost. Despite taking steps to prepare, 'damage costs rose alongside the floodwaters. Damage to public property totaled $153,980. The city received $135,554 in federal and state reimbursement; FEMA paid 75 percent, and the state recorded phone line activated dur- for example, or residents with before the January flood. Between picked up 12.5 percent. Issaquah ing the disaster. A section of the equipment useful in disaster 1994 and 2000, the city bought will pay the difference. Web site dedicated to flood infer- cleanup, such as chainsaws and five flood-prone properties and Homeowners reported up to mation received almost 6,000 ladders. Volunteers also deter- removed structures and fill mate- $500,000 worth of damage, and views during the three-day span mine whether neighbors haverial to expand the floodplain. when flooding was the worst, special needs and need additional Officials also purchased vacant Officials also made Google Maps to assistance during a disaster, land along the creek to prevent alert motorists to road closures "Volunteers can go into those development in low-lying areas. caused by flooding, city spokes- neighborhoods and get familiar Moreover, the King County woman Autumn Monahan said with the areas they could be Flood Control Zone District kicks during the Oct. 27 presentation to the council. "We had a huge amount of traf- fic on the Web site during those three days of flooding," Monahan said. Besides the phone, radio, TV and Web alerts, city officials splashed warnings on electronic message boards and activated flashing lights on signs to alert residents to tune into the city radio station, 1700-AM. Updates were also distributed through the deployed to, to he!p with sandbags and other things, Monahan said. In the aftermath Floodwaters ruined houses in the hard-hit Sycamore neighbor- hood and damaged businesses at the Gilman Square retail complex, but Campbell said damage could have been much worse. The emer- in about $60,000 per year to Issaquah for flood-mitigation proj- ects. After the January good, county crews brought debris bins to Issaquah, where residents could dump flood detritus for free. Campbell noted how the prepa- ration efforts earned Issaquah the highest rating from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. gency management coordinator The flood management and credited a years-long push to response program saves residents replace bridges and buy flood- 25 percent on flood insurance pre- prone land. miums, he said. the flood left Gilman Square with about $500,000 in damage. Efforts to ready the city for furore flooding began soon after floodwaters receded last winter. City crews have restocked sand- bags, calibrated flood gauges and installed reflective signs to direct residents to tune in to the city radio warning system when flood- waters rise. But Campbell said some work remains incomplete, such as the installation of another Issaquah Creek flood gauge. "We still have some necessary improvements to do," he said. Warren gagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or whgarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com. said the possibility of sewer back- ups in Issaquah is unlikely. Heath also serves as the city's emergency management director. FROM PAGE A1 Authorities would likely release sewage into lakes to relieve pres- water to flow through the Howard sure on the system and prevent Hanson Dam. The natural abut- backups. ment adjacent to the dam was "The question is where are you weakened by severe weather last going to create the environmental winter, and engineers worry the disaster," Heath said. "Are you just earthen structure could fail if rain going to add to one that's already swelled the reservoir behind the existing or do you want to create dam. additional ones in other communi- "If that erosion is allowed to con- ties?" tinue, the river will create a new Heath said city crews have expe- channel and it will basically leave rience with maintaining the sewer the engineered structure of the system during floods. dam useless, Mitchell said. "It will During a normal flood -- you be an interesting sculpture up in probably don't know it -- but the the Cascades." sewers even here in Issaquah are Mitchell said there is a one-in- flowing full," he said. "If you pop a four chance that a heavy rainstorm manhole lid, they're full." could force dam operators to People who live far from the release water downstream, floodplain could also face Floodwaters could destroy up to headaches related to everything 30,000 homes and displace thou- from food to fuel to phones. sands of South King County resi- Flooding could interrupt telecom- dents. Mil~chell said the number of munications, because cities in the evacuees could be unprecedented: river valley are the site of several "5,000 people, we've never shel- switching facilities. tered that in the Northwest. ~ "If those systems are knocked don't know what that looks like, so out, they can have far-reaching, it,s a huge challenge." cascading effects, Mitchell said. Councilman Fred Butler, a mem- "Just so you know, the power grid ber of the Sound Transit board, and the substations are controlled said buses would be available to evacuate people from the Green River Valley if the river swells. Moreover, he said Metro Transit, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit officials plan to divert buses with routes affected by Green River flooding. Flooding could cause problems with sewage systems, but authori- ties described the threat to Issaquah customers as minimal. Issaquah, like other Eastside and South King County cities, sends sewage to the South Treatment Plant in Renton. Issaquah Public Works Operations Director Bret Heath via telecommunications lines. So, if we lose power, we could lose telecommunications, because they need power. If we lose telecommu- nications, we may not be able to control our power systems and shut those off appropriately. Despite the grim forecasts from emergency planners, officials said efforts were under way to prepare the Green River Valley and the region for floods. "People are ta,ki fl all of this very, very serious, Butler said. Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www. issaquahpress, com. Free Intro Lesson Family Discounts Recitals, Festivals, Fun Lessons Convenient Scheduling ExpefienczA Teach www.virtuosomusic.com ..... : :: :::: : How did my hips and knees get so much older than the rest of me? The price some of us pay for a long and active life are joints that wear our before the rest of us does. Fortunatel}~ you can get new ones. And the expert surgeons at the Swedish Orthopedic Institute do more total joint replacements than any other medical center in the state. Come meet one of our surgeons, learn about our new, dedicated orthopedic hospital, and ask any questions that are on your mind. So join us. You have nothing to lose, except for a life of pain. 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