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What To Do Before A Flood

The City of Renton has tools that help predict what may happen during storm events that hit this region during the winter and spring months. One of those tools is the Northwest River Forecast Center, which uses the National Weather Service River Forecast System (NWSRFS) and the Streamflow Simulation and Reservoir Regulation (SSARR) to simulate soil, snow, stream channel and reservoir conditions. Daily forecasts are made using observations of temperature and precipitation. Forecasts of meteorological parameters are included in the river-forecast model. Then flooding forecasts and warnings are disseminated to the public through Weather Forecast Offices. Forecast distribution is made using the NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, television, and local emergency agencies.

Know the terms used to describe flooding:

Flood Watch - Flooding is possible. Stay tuned to NOAA radio, commercial radio or television for additional information.

  • Flash Flood Watch - Flash flooding is possible. Move to higher ground. A flash flood could occur without any warning. Listen to NOAA radio, commercial radio or television for additional information.
  • Flood Warning - Flooding is occurring or will occur soon. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Flash Flood Warning - A flash flood is occurring. Seek higher ground on foot immediately.
  • Urban and Small Stream Advisory - Flooding of small streams, streets and low-lying areas is occurring.

Steps to Take Before a Flood: Secure your Property

  • Find out whether your property is in a flood-prone area and learn your property elevation level help determine how your property will be affected when flood levels are forecasted. To find out if your house is in a flood-plain, call Gary Fink, Surface Water Utility Engineer, at 425.430.7392.
  • Identify dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard.
  • Ask your local emergency management about official flood warning signals. Learn what to do when you hear them. Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with battery backup and a tone-alert feature which automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Learn your community's flood evacuation routes and where to find high ground.
  • Talk to your family about flooding. Plan a place to meet your family in case you are separated from one another in a disaster and cannot return home. Choose an out-of-state contact for everyone to call and check-in. In some emergencies, calling out-of-state is possible even when local phone lines are down.
  • Determine how you would care for family members who may live elsewhere but might need your help in a flood. Determine any special needs your neighbors might have.
  • Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit.
  • Know how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves. Know where gas pilots are located and how the heating system works.
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance. Flood losses are not covered under homeowners' insurance policies. Flood insurance is available in most communities from the National Flood Insurance Program.
    • The City of Renton participates in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This results in increased flood protection and entitles property owners to a 25% discount in flood insurance rates. The Surface Water Utility provides the services necessary to qualify for the reduction.
    • There is usually a waiting period before flood insurance takes effect
    • Flood insurance is available whether the building is in or out of an identified flood-prone area.
    • There are low-cost polices for homes in low to moderate risk areas
    • The average flood insurance policy costs about $300 a year for about $100,000 coverage
    • Federal assistance after a flood is only available if the President declares a disaster, and more than 90% of all disasters are not presidential declared.
    • To get flood insurance, contact your present insurance supplier, look in the yellow pages or contact FEMA at or call 1.888.379.9531.
  • Consider options for flood proofing your home. Call your local building department or emergency management office for information.
  • Make a record of your personal property. Take photographs of or videotape your belongings and store them in a safe place.
  • Keep insurance policies, deeds, property records and other important papers in a safe place away from your home.
  • Help prevent flooding by locating the storm drains nearest to your house and sweeping off leaves and other debris that may gather on top of the grate. Also, to help prevent clogged pipes, don't dump grass clippings into drains, ditches and streams. If your storm drain has been cleared and water does not recede, call the Maintenance Services Division at 425.430.7400.