Over the past few years, Lewis County and surrounding areas have experienced a welcome reprieve from the widespread and devastating flooding that has plagued the region for most of its recorded history.
But don’t let this year’s calm allow you to forget the storms. Now is the time to be vigilant in preparation for when the next big flood dampens our doors.
We’re approaching the unofficial start of flood season, a time when bands of violent winter storms batter hills and valleys and often cause the Chehalis and Cowlitz rivers, along with other local waterways, to spill out of their banks and into neighboring roads and property.
Though there hasn’t been severe flooding for three years, it’s wise to consider our history when making common sense preparations for disasters.
It has been 12 years since the devastation brought by the Chehalis River flood of December 2007. Many who have since moved here or were perhaps too young to remember the events of the time and cannot fathom the destruction brought by the record flooding. The freeway was shut down for days. Farmers lost entire herds of livestock. Homes were ripped from their foundations and sent floating across open fields. West Lewis County was covered in thick mud, and roads were ripped up from the ground.
Some scars remain on the landscape to this day, and we should acknowledge them as monuments to the importance of always being prepared when living in flood country.
Fortunately, the Lewis County Department of Emergency Management offers a number of tools and suggestions for staying safe when the rain falls and the water rises.
Lewis County Alert is a program that allows emergency management workers to warn residents of impending threats via text message, telephone and email and allows for the sharing of information on potential disasters specific to your address.
The county also hosts information on National Weather Service river readings, county road conditions and weather predictions on its website.
Online, you’ll find tips on preparing homes and families for disasters, creating a 72-hour emergency kit and what exactly to do after you’ve been impacted by a flood.
During past floods, the Lewis County area has shown that we take care of one another, so do so proactively and make sure vulnerable friends and family members are equipped for the rainy months ahead.
It’s also a good time to make sure your insurance protects you and your property from the aftermath of flooding. National Flood Insurance Program policies, available through most insurance companies, pay claims whether or not a disaster is declared.
“Standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover damage from flooding, and just a few inches of floodwater inside a home can cost thousands of dollars to repair,” said Sandy Eccker, emergency manager for Thurston County.
Learn more on how to prepare at lewiscountywa.gov/departments/emergency-management/.