Monday, March 15, 2010

It is Flood Safety Awareness Week

The National Weather Service reminds us that March 15-19th is "Flood Safety Awareness" Week.  While we have been experiencing a very moderate winter and spring so far, it is important to remember that the Pacific Northwest is only a good storm away from seeing pictures like this one, taken in Chehalis, Washington, in 2007, along Interstate 5.

In honor of "Flood Safety Awareness" week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency launched a press release which announces a new "interactive" flood map which promises to provide Americans with data about their local floods.

Unfortunately, for Clark County residents, this interactive map is provides very little detail about actual flooding situations which have occurred locally.  If you believed this map, you'd think we've only flooded once in early January 2009 and recorded no damage. 

To provide better data about the local flooding risk, here is a brief overview of the flooding incidents that are on records with the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) for Clark County:
  • 1996 Floods resulted in estimated damages near $22 million
  • 1997 Winter Storm resulted in $1.4 million in estimated loss
  • 2004 Winter Storm estimated about $4 million in damages
  • 2006 Flooding records estimated about $2 million
  • 2009 Flooding in northern Clark County estimated $1.1 million in loss
Why do we say "estimated" loss?  Because CRESA collects "preliminary damage assessment" information which is submitted to the State of Washington, following a disaster declaration.  This information is sent by the State to FEMA during the recovery phase of a disaster.  Unfortunately, the validation process which follows occurs between FEMA and the residents or agencies declaring the loss which means that CRESA never gets a final report on whether the damages are actually confirmed.

For more information and weather-specific products related to flooding, check out the website

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