How to prepare for flooding
King County, Washington
View and print custom online maps using King County data including parcels, floodway and floodplain boundaries.
FEMA Flood Hazard Maps
Information on locating Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), understand how to read them, and requesting a map change.
FEMA Flood Map Service Center (External link)
Order or view current Flood Insurance Rate Maps online.
(registration required, no charge to view maps)
- Make sure everyone knows the emergency phone numbers, and when to call them.
- Learn the safest route from your home or business to high ground.
- Make arrangements for housing in the event you need to evacuate your home.
- Establish meeting places and phone numbers in case family members are separated by rising flood waters.
- Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water lines.
- Remember, the next flood can always be bigger than floods you have seen before.
- Find out about sandbag distribution in King County.
- Learn how to use sandbags (176 Kb Acrobat pdf) from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Where to find sandbags in King County and how to use them (external)
- Store valuables at higher elevations (second story, if possible).
- Store household chemicals above flood levels.
- Ensure that underground storage tanks are fully sealed and secure.
- Close storm shutters and sandbag doorways.
- Have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains.
- Move vehicles and RVs to higher ground.
Keep emergency supplies on hand: Disaster Supply Kit (ready.gov)
- Portable radio, emergency cooking equipment, flashlights, fresh batteries, non-perishable food and drinking water, essential medicines and a first-aid kit.
Consider purchasing a NOAA Weather RadioTake care of chemical products before flood season
- Call 206-477-8100 if you need assistance.
The first thing a property owner or resident should do is contact their insurance agent to find out about flood insurance specifics. You can also visit floodsmart.gov/ for additional information.
Why would I need flood insurance?
Flooding is our most common natural hazard in King County and in the United States. Flooding, whether it affects a few houses in your neighborhood or an entire valley, causes significant damage to buildings and can ruin your financial investment. Just one foot of floodwater can result in over $50,000 of damage to a 2,000 square foot home.
Homeowners and renters insurance does not pay for flood damage; only flood insurance does. Without flood insurance, a family would be responsible for any flood damage to their home. Most federal disaster assistance will not make a family whole after such flood damage either, since it comes in the form of small grants or Small Business Administration loans that must be paid back.
How is flood insurance rated?
Flood insurance can be purchased for the building itself and/or the contents. Flood insurance rates do not differ by the company that offers flood insurance. The rates are set nationally and are based on a variety of factors about your building and its use.
- Flood risk (each flood zone is rated a little bit differently)
- Building type (residential or nonresidential)
- Age of building (in comparison to the Flood Insurance Rate Map)
- Type of foundation
How do I buy flood insurance?
Contact your insurance agent. Most agents who sell homeowners or renters insurance also sell flood insurance. If not, call the National Flood Insurance Program Help Center at 1-800-427-4661.
Can I purchase flood insurance if I’m not in the floodplain?
Yes, you can. Most properties in the X Zone, which refers to areas of moderate or low flood risk, are eligible for a Preferred Risk Policy. The Preferred Risk Policy is much less expensive than a policy in a mapped floodplain.
During a floodKeep a battery-powered radio tuned to a local station
- Follow all emergency instructions.
- Then move to a higher floor or to the roof. Take warm, weatherproof clothing, a flashlight, a cell phone and a portable radio.
- If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Evacuation is much simpler and safer before flood waters become too deep for ordinary vehicles to drive through.
- Do not drive where water is over the road or past barricaded road signs.
- If your car stalls in a flooded area, abandon it as soon as possible and walk to safety in the direction you came from.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes, as shortcuts may be blocked.
- Close the main gas valve.
- Turn off all utilities in your building at the main power switch. Do not touch any electrical equipment unless it is in a dry area or you are standing on a piece of dry wood while wearing rubber-soled shoes and rubber gloves.
- Record flood statistics such as time, gage reading, and local flood elevations for use in future home flood forecasting.
After a floodBefore re-entering your home
- Check for structural damage that could cause the building to collapse. Be cautious of potential gas leaks, electrical shorts and live wires.
- Use flashlights, rather than lanterns or candles (in case of gas leaks).
- your heating system, electrical panel, outlets and appliances for safety before using. Call the gas company to have them turn the gas back on.
- How to clean a house after a flood.
- Cleaning a basement after a flood.
- Safe food and medicine after a flood.
- Septic tank systems during power outages or floods.
- Photograph damages and record repair costs.
- Refer to Document Damage and Start Clean Up
- Do not dump sand into the river or on its banks. Store it for future use.
- Only available following a federal disaster declaration. Listen to the radio or television for updates on disaster assistance and registration procedures.