‘Mega shelters’ in the works for Green River Valley flood preparations

Plans for evacuating up to 30,000 residents of the Green River Valley are complete, with work under way to shelter up to 5,000 evacuees for several weeks at a time, according to officials from King County agencies who earlier this month briefed the Metropolitan King County Council’s Committee of the Whole.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Wednesday, October 21, 2009 1:00pm
  • News

Plans for evacuating up to 30,000 residents of the Green River Valley are complete, with work under way to shelter up to 5,000 evacuees for several weeks at a time, according to officials from King County agencies who earlier this month briefed the Metropolitan King County Council’s Committee of the Whole.

The committee has been conducting hearings on preparations for the potential flood threat from the federally owned and operated Howard Hanson Dam.

Heather Kelly, program manager for the King County Office of Emergency Management, said up to 30,000 residents of the Green River Valley could be displaced by flooding, with up to 10 to 20 percent of those needing sheltering. She said local cities in the potential flood path have said they can currently shelter only about 100 people, so the County’s focus is on establishing what she called “mega-shelters” that can house up to 5,000 evacuees for extended periods of time.

Among the regional facilities Kelly said the County has contacted are the Qwest Field Event Center, Tacoma Dome, Washington State Convention Center, and Port of Seattle’s Cruise Passenger Terminal.

Kelly said the county is working with the Red Cross to establish and staff two mega-shelters and five smaller shelters. She said the county also is seeking to establish shelters for people with medical needs, people who need to stay close to their homes because of livestock or pets, and those who need sheltering but cannot go to a medical or Red Cross shelter.

Road signs designating evacuation routes from the potential flood zone are being fabricated now and could be ready for installation by the end of the month, according to Harold Taniguchi, Director of the King County Department of Transportation. He said the County has worked with local cities to identify about 13 potential evacuation routes along 40 miles of roads in unincorporated King County. The cities of Tukwila, Kent, Auburn and Renton have developed their own evacuation plans and the County is working cooperatively with each of them, as well as with the state.

At least 10 of the 33 Metro Transit routes that pass through the potential flood zone would have to be suspended if there is flooding, said Taniguchi, but their goal is to keep as many buses running as road conditions permit. He said Metro is working with Sound Transit to carry passengers who would normally ride the Sounder commuter train if that service is disrupted by flooding, and coordinating with local jurisdictions to assist 441 local ACCESS bus users who would need transportation.




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