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Flood emergency preparedness

Learn more about how to prepare for floods.

There are 6 major river systems that flow through King County:

  • Cedar
  • Green
  • Sammamish
  • Skykomish
  • Snoqualmie
  • White

Many communities in King County are located along the major river systems and in times of flooding these major rivers can be hazardous for residents who live and work in the area.

Combinations of heavy rain, melting snow, or other severe storm threats can make living in a flood plain dangerous. Since most rivers in King County flow off the Cascades, they are heavily influenced by rain and snow patterns in the mountains. Floodplain residents in King County need to be aware of the risks posed to their community and incorporate these risks into their preparedness plans. Additionally, urban King County residents should be aware of hazards posed by urban flooding along city streets, including transportation problems and impacts to residential or business establishments.

Learn more about floods in our video below:

Prepare for a flood

  • Learn the safest route from your home or business to higher ground.
  • Make arrangements for housing in the event you need to evacuate your home.
  • Teach all family members how, where and when to turn off utilities.
  • Plan for a meeting place outside of the hazard area.
  • If it has been raining hard for several hours, or raining steadily for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
  • Consider purchasing 1 more pump to use to remove water in and around your home during heavy rains or flooding.
  • Prepare for utility outages which often accompany floods.
  • Review your flood insurance policies for structure and contents coverage. Don't have insurance? Contact your insurance representative or visit

What to do during and after a flood

During a flood:

  • Monitor local media or NOAA Weather Radio for information and emergency instructions.
  • Have your emergency supply kit (328KB) ready to go if told to evacuate.
  • If told to evacuate, do so as soon as possible. Delay or refusal to evacuate can jeopardize your safety, the safety of emergency responders, and hinder rescue efforts.
  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher levels in your home if you have time.
  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.
  • Do not drive around barricades - they are there for your safety.
  • Never drive through a flooded area. Most cars can be carried away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Don't walk or wade through flood waters. You can be knocked off your feet by as little as six inches of moving water.

Returning to your home after a flood

  • Do not turn electricity back on if you smell gas or if the electric system has been flooded.
  • Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.
  • Do not handle electrical equipment in wet areas.
  • Use flashlights (not lanterns, candles, or matches) to check buildings containing natural gas, propane, or gasoline.
  • Follow directions from local officials regarding the safety of drinking water.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by flood waters and throw out any food that was touched by floodwater or was affected by power outages.