Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How bad will the next flood be? That could be up to you.

Eric Holdeman’s blog had a timely “Quote of the Week” this last weekend: “Floods are acts of God, but flood damages are acts of man”. This is only partly true, since removing water-absorbing surfaces from river basins and adding roads and buildings to floodplains can add to flood waters. But it’s absolutely true that the decisions that we make about where we live, work, and develop will be the determining factor in how our community is impacted by the next flood. We can choose not to develop in a flood-prone area. Yes, riverfront properties are the sites for many dream homes but what’s the long term price homeowners will pay? For folks who already live in a flood-prone area you can ensure that your living space is up at a safe elevation. You can also build structures that are made out of durable and water resistant materials so that they flood safely. The Washington State Department of Ecology wrote an excellent guide, Living With the River, which has more essential information that can help you make smart choices to reduce flood risks.

Do you know what the flooding risk is where you live, work, and travel? If you live near a waterway (usually within a quarter of a mile) you might be at risk of flooding. I’ve met a few people who live along the Lewis River who know exactly at what river level their home starts to take on water. Local knowledge is a great source of information. Clark County GIS (Geographic Information Systems) also has maps that can show you the location of floodplains (while you’re there, you may also want to take a look at landslide and earthquake risks in your area!).

You also need to determine how you’ll protect your home and your family from the next flood event. How will you be notified of flood threats? The most reliable source is a NOAA Weather Radio. Other sources are available here. If you need them, where will you get sandbags? Home improvement stores and other local vendors often carry sandbags. During flood events, we’ll let you know where to pick up sandbags through this blog or through news releases. If your home can take on water in floods, you should also consider having sandbags that are ready to go. More information about responding to floods is available on this Washington State Emergency Management Division website.

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