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Threat of flooding lightens in western Washington

Due to the increased amount of rain, the threat of flooding increased in many areas of Washington in the past several days. Precautions are being taken to limit damage at Washington State University facilities. Here is a quick update:

* Operations at WSU-Mount Vernon NWREC returned to normal this morning as the threat of flooding has subsided, at least for the moment.

The water was reported to have crested at about 6 foot above flood level instead of the predicted 12-foot level. 

Operations at the WSU Mt Vernon facility were suspended at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, when it was announced that one of the main bridges would be closed at 3 p.m. Currently, state emergency officials are not worried about the dikes in that area.

The Mount Vernon station, is located about a mile from the Skagit River.

The Skagit River area has been described a “giant flood plain,” and escape routes have been discussed if an evacuation is necessary. The river has been temporarily sandbagged and some dikes have been built.  Flood level on the river is 28 feet and it reached approximately 32 feet yesterday. 

* WSU Vancouver is adjacent to Salmon Creek, which is at flood stage and rising. Since the campus is located on a hill, only trails, fields and similar areas may be affected, which may include WSU property but not academic buildings. Some roads near the campus are closed, affecting access.

*Prosser and Wenatchee have reported no problems due to flooding at this time.

Statewide report

Gov. Chris Gregoire proclaimed Monday afternoon a state of emergency in Clallam, Jefferson, Mason, Kitsap, Grays Harbor, Thurston, Okanogan, Pierce, King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Lewis, Pacific, Cowlitz, Wahkiakum, Clark and Chelan counties due to extensive flooding and the potential damage from landslides and wind causing extensive damage to homes, businesses, public utilities, public facilities and infrastructure. The proclamation directs state agencies and departments to use state resources and to do everything possible to assist the affected political subdivisions to respond to and recover from the event.

Here is the situation in some of those regions. If they impact WSU facilities, we will try to provide an update.

* Pierce County has declared a state of emergency. The county’s priorities include gaining situational awareness of flooding conditions throughout the county, responding to citizens’ calls for assistance, and monitoring wind damage and debris. Piece County has been provided with 20,000 sandbags. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter in Sumner.

* King County has increased the flood alert status of the Snoqualmie and Tolt Rivers into Phase IV, which means that significant flooding could occur along both rivers. A Phase IV flood alert on the Snoqualmie River means some residential areas may experience dangerous high velocities and flooding of homes.

Individual preparedness

Residents in flood prone or flood watch areas should consider the following preparedness actions as recommended by the Washington State Emergency Management Division:
 
• Listen to radio or television stations for local information and weather reports.
• Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood suddenly.
• Do not walk or drive through floodwaters.
• Secure your home. If time permits, also secure items located outside the house.
• If instructed, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves.
• Fill your car with fuel.
•Fill the bathtub with water in case the water supply becomes contaminated or services are cut off. Sterilize the bathtub first.
• When deep flooding is likely, permit the floodwaters to flow freely into your basement to avoid structural damage to the foundation and the house.

For additional information, go to
* State Emergency Management Division http://www.emd.wa.gov/
* http://access.wa.gov/emergency/flood.aspx
* http://www.doh.wa.gov/phepr/handbook/flood.htm
* http://www.doh.wa.gov/Topics/floods_cleanup.htm

 

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