Thursday, December 10, 2015

Severe weather brings flooding across our state

By: Jessica Payne, Shorelands program communications manager

Washington is among the most flood-prone states west of the Mississippi River. The costs of flood damages in our state exceed those of all other natural hazards. This week's severe weather has many communities fighting the floods.

Floods are Washington's most costly natural disaster.

How we help during flood season

We partner with federal, state and local government agencies to help communities in need when floods strike. Do you need to see current flood alerts? Are you trying to find your local emergency management office? Perhaps you are looking for technical assistance or want to learn what to do before, during and after a flood?

We can help connect you:

Floodplains by Design: Building more resilient communities 

A huge part of our work is to help communities work better with their floodplain. People of Washington are living in the path of flood waters, our water quality is on the decline and habitat critical to restoring salmon populations is disappearing. We work in collaboration with Puget Sound Partnership and The Nature Conservancy to administer a grant program called Floodplains by Design that funds city projects that not only reduce flood risk, but restore salmon habitats, protect agricultural land, improve water quality and enhance outdoor recreation.

Our WCC crews lay sandbags as severe flooding
threatened Hoquiam in January 2015.

WCC helps communities in need

Another way we help? When disaster strikes, our Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crew members deploy. The WCC, an AmeriCorps program run through our agency, responds to disasters in Washington State and beyond. 

During floods, they lay sandbags, organize volunteers, remove storm debris, gut flood-damaged debris from houses and do so much more. See how they assisted in Hoquiam this past January.

You can prepare to prevent pollution

Winter weather can be challenging to us personally, and our actions can also be hard on our water and air resources. Here are some things you can do to help reduce seasonal pollutants.
See flooding? Stay away! Flood water may contain
sewage, harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • Stormwater runoff from rain and melting snow goes down our storm drains. Unlike the water that goes down your home’s drain to the sewer system, stormwater that flows into storm drains is not typically treated or filtered for pollutants. It flows directly into creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, and Puget Sound.
  • Hazardous products and waste need to be managed so they don't cause pollution in a flood. Did you know that floodwater may contain sewage?! The first step is to reduce your use and the amount on hand of hazardous products and hazardous wastes. Then safely store and secure any of these substances or materials you do have on hand.
  • Report Spills! Accidents happen, especially when the weather gets messy. If you see a spill or hazardous debris, please let us know.
  • Using wood heat can lead to poor air quality. If you burn wood for heat, burn cleanly to reduce smoke and regional haze. Remember to comply with burn bans.
  • Diesel generators can be a helpful energy source if the power goes out, but be aware of the danger of diesel emissions.
Learn more about what you can do on our website.

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