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Heavy rain means potential flooding in King County

Predictions of heavy rainfall this week have prompted King County officials to warn the public about potential flooding and other weather-related emergencies.

“King County has experienced 10 federally declared flood disasters since 1990, so we know the possibility of serious flooding may be as close as the next big storm,” said County Councilwoman Julia Patterson.

To increase preparedness, county road crews have been on alert since mid-October in southeast and east areas of the county for clogged storm drains, water over roadways, downed trees, icy roads or anything that could pose a hazard for motorists. The county also plans to use message signs to issue advisories about flood-related road closures, said Harold Taniguchi, director of transportation.

In addition to roads in unincorporated areas, the county provides road maintenance service for the cities of Maple Valley and Covington.

“Our crews are prepared for the first potentially serious storm of the season,” Taniguchi said Monday.

The general public can also do its part, officials said.

“We really appreciate it when residents help us out with simple things like clearing leaves away from storm drains, not abandoning their cars or driving through floodwater, and calling us about problems,” said Tony Ledbetter, roads maintenance superintendent.

County Councilman Reagan Dunn, whose district includes those cities and Black Diamond, said the public can rest a little easier knowing there has been progress on flood-prevention efforts.

“It isn’t a question of if there will be another major flooding event, but when it will occur,” said Dunn. “Citizens need to take personal responsibility to keep their families safe. But we also want them to know the county is working to protect people, property and the region’s economy” from floods.

Nearly 25 anti-flood projects will be completed this year through the King County Flood Control District, according to officials. The district was created to provide funding to improve river levees and take other precautionary steps. The projects include the purchase of Cedar Grove Mobile Home Park near Maple Valley and the relocation of its residents.

In case of high water, residents of flood-prone areas should have emergency supplies, including a portable radio, a flashlight and fresh batteries, cooking equipment, non-perishable food, drinking water, essential medications and a first aid kit. In some cases, sandbags can help protect property, officials said.

When river levels rise, the county monitors river gauges, the weather, dam operations and road closures 24 hours a day.

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