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Storm Season Preparation

Preparing for storms and flooding

The first thing you should do to get ready for storm season is assess whether your property might flood. Talk to your neighbors and learn about the history of flooding or landslides where you live.

If you think you might experience flooding, you can take several actions to get ready before seasonal storms arrive. Some of the actions on this page require permits that could take up to a year, and the help of hired professionals.

Prepare for emergencies

  • Follow the 3 days/3 ways approach – Build a kit. Make a plan. Stay informed.
  • Know where your shutoffs are. If flooding occurs, you’ll need to know how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves.
  • You can also attend a class in Seattle to get official training.

Elevate large items

Elevate your furnace, water heater, washer/dryer, and electric panel if they are susceptible to flooding. Use masonry blocks, concrete, or pressure-treated lumber so that they are at least 12” above the projected flood level.

Retrofit your house

If your house might flood, consider some retrofits that will improve its ability to withstand water. Most of these changes require time and money. Use a search engine to look up “drainage” for the guidance of drainage professionals.

Highlights listed below are from FEMA’s Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your House from Flooding (pdf).

  • Seal walls in basements with waterproof coatings or supplemental layers of masonry or concrete to avoid seepage.
  • If you have floors below street level (grade), look into installing a sump pump, which is usually installed in the basement to remove water and prevent water from entering living spaces.
  • Install watertight shields to doors, windows, and other openings.
  • Strengthen your walls so that they can withstand the pressures of flood waters and the impacts of floodborne debris.

Contact the Seattle Department of Planning and Development regarding requirements for discharging water from your basement, permits, and solutions for side sewer problems. Learn more about side sewers.

Consider getting flood insurance

  • Flood Insurance, How It Works (doc) – National Flood insurance Program.
  • Check your homeowners’ insurance agreement for flood coverage. Flood insurance protects you from the financial damages caused by flooding. Learn more about obtaining flood insurance.
  • Everyone is eligible for flood insurance.

Redirect where flood waters flow

  • Direct flows from downspouts at least 5 feet away from your house foundation, without sending flows to adjacent properties. Never discharge water over the edge of a steep hill. Coordinate with the Seattle Department of Planning and Development for approved points to discharge water.
  • Create “flow paths” in your yard where water can flow during a storm without damaging your neighbors’ properties or valuable gardens.
  • Consider using sandbags to redirect flows.