Flooding affects areas near WSU facilities

Due to the increased amount of rain, flooding is occurring in many areas of Washington and precautions are being taken to limit damage. Below is an update on the flood situation in areas related to Washington State University.

* Operations at WSU-Mount Vernon NWREC were suspended at 2 pm today, Tuesday, Nov. 7, due to recent reports from National Weather Service, allowing employees time to safely return home. Employees there were asked to secure their  areas (laboratories, chemical storage areas, electronic equipment in offices) before leaving.

In the event that flooding continues and it is not prudent to resume operations on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at WSU Mt. Vernon, an emergency phone tree will be implemented. Consequenlty, a decision will be made early Wednesday morning by Debra Ann Inglis, interim director/assistant dean, WSU Mount Vernon, on whether or not to resume operations.

If a decision is made to not resume operations, Inglis will alert faculty by telephone; faculty will then be responsible for alerting their staff by telephone. Employees who do not hear from their supervisor, should plan on coming to work or calling your supervisor for further information.

The Mount Vernon station, which is about a mile from the Skagit River, has reported that flooding has not occurred at this time. They have taken precautions and moved items that could be damaged if flooding does occur. The Skagit River is a giant flood plain and escape routes have been discussed if an evacuation is called for. The river has been temporarily sandbagged and some dikes have been built.  Flood level on the river is 28’ and they are at 29’ right now. The river is expected to crest anywhere from 35’-38’ late this afternoon.

* WSU Vancouver is adjacent to Salmon Creek, which is at flood stage and rising, but since the campus located on a hill only trails, fields and similar areas may be affected.

*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