How to prepare for flooding
King County, Washington
View custom online maps using King County data including parcels, floodway and floodplain boundaries.
FEMA Flood Hazard Maps (external link)
Locate Flood Insurance Rate Maps, learn how to read them or request a map change.
FEMA Flood Map Service Center (external link)
Order or view current Flood Insurance Rate Maps online. Registration is required, but there is 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 case you need to evacuate your home.
- Identify a meeting place and share phone numbers in case your family is 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 sandbag distribution locations in King County.
- Learn how to use sandbags (PDF, 176 KB). (Help with PDF format.)
- Where to find sandbags in King County and how to use them (external link)
- Store valuables at higher elevations (a second story, if possible).
- Store household chemicals above flood levels.
- Ensure that underground storage tanks are fully sealed and secure.
- Close storm shutters and place sandbags in doorways.
- Install check valves in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains.
- Move vehicles and RVs to higher ground.
- Build a disaster supply kit (external link).
- Some items to include in your kit are: a 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 Radio (external link).
- Call the 24/7 Road Helpline at 206-477-8100 if you need assistance.
Whether you rent or own your home, contact your insurance agent to learn about flood insurance. You can also visit floodsmart.gov/ for 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 flood damage, 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, including:
- 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).
- 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.
- Learn how to document damage and start clean up (external link).
- 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.