- Before a Flood
- During a Flood
- After a Flood
- Before a Flood
- Benefits of Floodplain by Design
- LID Standards
- Protection of Open Space
As a "two-county City", with nearly 10% of Auburn's land area
located in a floodplain, the City coordinates with both
County Flood Control District
and the Pierce County
Flood Control Zone District.
Overarching objectives and strategies of these flood control districts include:
- Improving levee protection through major commercial, industrial and residential areas,
- Improving flood water conveyance and capacity,
- Reducing hazards by removing flood, erosion, and landslide prone residential structures,
- Providing safe access to homes and businesses by protecting key transportation routes,
- Minimizing creation of new risks to public safety from development pressure.
Auburn provides advice on types of protection measures that homeowners and businesses can take to help protect themselves and their properties from flooding. For more information about flood protection assistance, contact Jenna Leonard, Environmental Planner, at 253-804-5092.Floodsmart website below to learn about these and other causes of flooding.
Levees and dams are two mechanical barriers that are used to protect properties from flooding. Find out how levees work and run different flood risk scenarios by clicking on the links to below.
The City of Auburn, along with King and Pierce Counties, has river and floodplain management plans in place to reduce flood risk and minimize flood damage. The City and Counties use flood maps to understand where flooding may occur, and to work with those residents and business owners to reduce potential impacts from future flood events. The links below will direct you to a brief discussion of river and floodplain management in King County, as well as a brief explanation of flood maps and how to interpret them.
Would you like to find out if your home or business is in a flood prone area? Visit the links below to access maps of floodplains and floodplain boundaries.
- View and print custom online maps using King County data including parcels, floodway and floodplain boundaries - iMap (high speed Internet connection required)
- The City can also help you determine whether your property is located in a floodplain - Letter to Residents and Businesses in The City of Auburn Regarding Floodplain Assistance (PDF)
- Information on locating Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), understand how to read them, and requesting a map change - FEMA Flood Hazard Maps
To learn more about the potential cost of flooding, visit the Flood Smart - The Cost of Flooding interactive tool
Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial owners/renters. Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers, and the property's flood risk.
Coverage for your building and contents is available. Talk to
your agent today about insuring your business or home and its
contents. Typically, there's a 30-day waiting period from date of
purchase before your policy goes into effect. That means now is the
best time to buy flood insurance.
Since standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding, it's important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S.
In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.
Find out more about the NFIP and how it can help you protect
Learn about The NFIP Partnership
Learn your risk, and find an agent, by taking Your Risk Profile at the Floodsmart website.
Business Owners - Don't forget to get coverage for your businesses too! Find out more!
There are several things that you can do to help protect you, your family, and/or your employees from a flood hazard.
Before a Flood
Update flood procedures for your family, farm or business (every year)
- 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.
Be Prepared -
Make Plan in Case of an Emergency
Be Prepared - Make a Pet Plan
Be Prepared - Build an Emergency Preparedness Kit
Be Informed - Learn what protective measures to take in an emergency
Get Involved - Find opportunities to support community preparedness
Prepare your Business - Plan for and protect your business
Keep a battery-powered radio tuned to a local station
- Follow all emergency instructions.
If you are caught in your building by rapidly rising waters, call 911 for help
- Then move to a higher floor or to the roof. Take warm, weatherproof clothing, a flashlight, a cell phone and a portable radio.
Do not walk or wade in flooded areas
Be prepared to evacuate
- 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.
If you evacuate by car:
- 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.
When flooding is imminent, but only if time permits:
- 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.
Before 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.
When re-entering a building:
- Use flashlights, rather than lanterns or candles (in case of gas leaks).
Have a professional check:
- your heating system, electrical panel, outlets and appliances for safety before using. Call the gas company to have them turn the gas back on.
Follow Seattle-King County Public Health disaster preparedness procedures:
- 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
- Prevent poisoning from carbon monoxide
Document your losses.
- Photograph damages and record repair costs.
Contact your insurance agent for flood loss claims.
Remove and empty sandbags.
- Do not dump sand into the river or on its banks. Store it for future use.
Apply for financial assistance.
- Only available following a federal disaster declaration. Listen to the radio or television for updates on disaster assistance and registration procedures.
Once you have a plan to keep you, your family, and/or employees safe during a flood hazard event, figure out how to protect your property.
Before a Flood
Consider using sand and sandbags to prevent flood damages
- Find out about sandbag distribution in King County.
- Learn how to use sandbags from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Where to find sandbags in King County and how to use them
Minimize flood damage
- 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.
Take care of chemical products before flood season.
Keep street drains, storm grates and flap gates free of leaves and other debris.
FEMA has produced several documents that help home and business owners protect their properties prior to imminent flooding conditions. When living or working in a floodplain, it is never too early to plan for the next flood. Below are a couple of documents that address examples of early protection measures. Below are some links to documents that provide tips on how to protect your building(s) from flooding.
FEMA P-347, Above the Flood � Elevating Your Floodprone House: This publication shows how floodprone houses in south Florida were elevated above the 100-year flood level following Hurricane Andrew. Alternative elevation techniques are also demonstrated.
FEMA 54, Elevated Residential Structures: Flooding in residential areas is bound to happen in flood-prone areas resulting in property damage. This manual is for designers, developers, builders, and others who wish to build elevated residential structures in flood-prone areas.
FEMA P-85, Protecting Manufactured Homes from Floods and Other Hazards (2009): FEMA P-85 has been updated to reflect the requirements of the most current codes and standards and to provide a best practices approach in reducing damages from natural hazards. While the original version of FEMA 85 concentrated on flood and wind events, this version also addresses seismic hazards and recommends several multi-hazard resistant foundation designs. Designs are included for wood-framed foundations, conventional concrete and masonry pier foundations, and ground anchors. The ground anchor foundations are based on results from a series of first-of-its-kind saturated and dry soil anchor tests.
FEMA 348, Protecting Building Utilities from Flood Damage (1999): The overall objective of this document is to assist in the construction of buildings with building utility systems that are designed and built so that the buildings can be re-occupied and fully operational as soon as electricity and sewer and water are restored to the neighborhood.
Reducing Damage from Localized Flooding: A Guide for Communities: This guide is intended to help local offices in cities, towns, villages, and counties in the United States understand what they can do to reduce the damage, disruption, and public and private costs that result from the shallow, localized flooding that occurs within their jurisdictions. This is flooding that all too often escapes the attention received by larger floods or those that are clearly mapped and subject to floodplain development regulations.
Remember, any construction, clearing of vegetation, or ground disturbance in the floodplain requires a floodplain permit prior to undertaking the work. The floodplain development permit application can be found here: Floodplain Development Application Packet. For more information about floodplain development permit requirements, contact Jenna Leonard, Environmental Planner, at 253-804-5092.
Natural Floodplains have many important functions, not the least of which is flood protection. Below is a quick description of floodplain benefits, provided by The Nature Conservancy. (Full article)
Benefits of Floodplain by Design
A key component of Floodplains by Design
is maintaining or protecting the valuable services that floodplains
provide people and nature. Listed below are some of these
Flood Protection: Floodplains provide a river more room as it rises, thereby reducing pressure on manmade flood protection structures, like levees and dams.
Improved Water Quality: When inundated with water, floodplains act as natural filters, removing excess sediment and nutrients, which can degrade water quality and increase treatment costs. Degradation of water quality due to the loss of floodplain habitat can be noted along smaller rivers and at-scale at large river basins. At the largest of scales are hypoxic or "Dead" zones, which are areas in bays or gulfs where little life exists due to excess nutrients carried by rivers.
Recharged Aquifers: Outside of a river's main channel, water flow is slowed and has more time to seep into the ground where it can replenish underground water sources (or aquifers), which serve as a primary source of water for many communities and which are critical for irrigation that grows much of the world's crops.
Improved Wildlife Habitat: Floodplains are home to some of the most biologically rich habitats on Earth. They provide spawning grounds for fish and critical areas of rest and foraging for migrating waterfowl and birds.
Recreational Industries: Many outdoor recreational activities - like fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, wildlife watching and boating - are made possible by or greatly enhanced by the natural processes of rivers and healthy floodplains. Combined, these recreational activities account for billions of dollars in economic activity in the United States and are important sources of income for most nations around the globe.
Listed below are some of the benefits of a Floodplains by Design approach within a floodplain.
Sustainable Agriculture: Floodplains by Design helps to keep agriculture operations out of the most flood-prone areas, provides natural buffers to streams from farm and ranch operations, and targets restoration activities at the most ecologically valuable places. It also focuses on keeping agriculture in large areas of the floodplain and helps ensure that such areas are not lost to development. This approach encourages some agriculture areas to be targeted for more flood tolerant crops, such as switchgrass for use in biofuels. These areas could occasionally serve as important flood storage and conveyance areas during the largest storm events to minimize loss of life and property in more developed areas. Offering appropriate economic incentives and compensation to the landowners for these uses will be critical to the success of such approaches.
Reduced Flood Insuranceand Disaster Recovery Costs: Implementing Floodplains by Design will reduce the public and private costs to subsidize flood insurance and reduce post-disaster damages. The United States annually spends an average of $3.1 billion on flood insurance premiums each year and $4 billion in crop insurance subsidies. Identifying and protecting or restoring regularly inundated areas posing the highest flood risk can reduce the consequences of flooding - loss of life, structures and crops - and reduce repetitive economic losses to society. Protecting areas of natural flood storage and conveyance also reduces costs associated with maintaining levees, floodwalls and other infrastructure.
Forestry Management and Carbon Sequestration: Floodplains by Design aims to protect and restore some of the highest value floodplain forests, including the bottomland hardwood forests of low-lying areas. These areas have high value for biodiversity and are important areas for carbon sequestration - whether in restoring previously harvested areas or protecting existing forest stocks.
Floodplain functions are so important that FEMA has produced several informational and guidance documents on their benefits. A couple are posted below.
FEMA's Emergency Management Institute's Training Manual has an entire chapter dedicated to the important functions that floodplains provide. You can find this chapter at the link below. Chapter 8: Floodplain Natural Resources and Function
On a more local scale, King County has also produced a report on the importance on floodplains.
The report discusses the connection between Floodplains and the economic benefits of its flood protection functions. King County, Washington - Published October, 2007
Economic Connections Between the King County Floodplains and the Greater King County Economy provides an independent assessment of the value of flood protection to the region's economy. This economic evaluation includes:
- inventory of active employment and payroll in King County floodplains;
- assessment of potential short-term economic effects of a major flood event;
- assessment of potential long-term economic effects of a change in aerospace employment and personal income in floodplains.
The report, commissioned by King County in spring, 2007, was conducted by principal economist Ted Helvoigt for the firm, ECONorthwest. Founded in 1974, ECONorthwest has completed more than 1,500 projects in economics, finance, planning, and policy evaluation.
The report can be downloaded at the link below:
The City of Auburn has several policies in place that help protect floodplains and floodplain functions. These include policies on stormwater, LID standards, and the protection of open space.
The Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) identifies stormwater
as the biggest source of pollution to lakes, rivers, and streams in
our country. The source of this pollution has been traced to how we
as citizens live our daily lives. Rainwater picks up pollutants
from the air, buildings, parking lots and from road surfaces. These
pollutants include chemicals, oils, sand, dirt, pet waste and other
Storm drains carry rainwater to the nearest natural body of water. Disposing of oils, detergents, pet waste and other materials into the storm drain is the same as dumping them directly into a stream, wetland, lake or Puget Sound.
We encourage people who live, work and play in Auburn to help keep our stormwater and natural water bodies clean. Removing contaminants from stormwater is not nearly as effective as eliminating the pollutant at the source. You can help us out by using some of the following suggestions:
- Keep leaves, yard waste or other debris out of the storm drains
- Report spills or water pollution, in the City of Auburn, to 253-931-3048, Option 8
- Clean up your pet waste - bag it and put it in the trash
- Wash your car at a car wash, or wash it on the lawn or where the wash water won't go into a storm drain. Learn more about Auburn's Car Wash Kit Program.
- Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly
- Fix leaks of auto fluids and recycle oil at a local auto parts store
For more information on protecting waterways, visit
the Puget Sound
Starts Here website.
For more information on what is being done in The City of Auburn, view the Storm Water Management Manual and Comprehensive Storm Plan.
In an effort to reduce pollution to stormwater, The City of Auburn has a construction requirement that all storm drains must have a stamp that reads "OUTFALL TO STREAMS, DUMP NO POLLUTANTS". This requirement can be found in Division 7, Drainage Structures, Storm Sewers, Sanitary Sewers, Water Mains, and Conduits (PDF).
The 2009 City of Auburn Surface Water Management Manual (SWMM) includes design guidelines for Stormwater management that reflect the requirements outlined in the five volumes of the 2005 Washington State Department of Ecology Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington. However, the City of Auburn SWMM also integrated a sixth volume, to encourage implementation of Low Impact Development (LID) methods. Volume VI Low Impact Development and On-Site Stormwater Management, includes general requirements, design criteria, and best management practices (BMPs) for several City approved LID methods, such as dispersion, bioretention, and alternate paving systems.
Because the use of LID techniques can reduce surface runoff impacts, developers are encouraged to incorporate LID methods through flow credit incentives. For example, if runoff from new rooftop areas is fully dispersed in accordance with the design guidelines of Volume VI, the developed impervious rooftop area can be modeled as grassed surface. This will reduce the runoff impact created by the development and likewise the developer's flow control obligation for the overall project. Flow credits vary based on the type of LID method applied. Flow credit information relevant to specific LID methods is detailed in the BMP sections of Vol. VI.
The City is currently working on updating the SWMM to meet the standards of Department of Ecology's 2012 Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington. This current DOE manual mandates incorporation of LID methods wherever feasible. It is anticipated that the City will complete the SWMM update sometime before the end of 2016 and will adopt the new manual shortly thereafter.
Protection of Open Space
The protection of open space in the floodplain enhances beneficial floodplain functions, such as slowing water flow, maintaining water quality, recharging groundwater, and increasing flood storage capacity. Nearly 10% of the City's land area is floodplain, and within that floodplain, there are over 300 acres of protected open space. The City has completed or is involved in several projects to protect and/or enhance the floodplain that can be found within Auburn city limits. Below are links to a couple such projects.
The City of Auburn is a StormReady city, a designation through the National Weather Service. StormReady, a program started in 1999 in Tulsa, Okla., helps arm America's communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property - before and during the event. StormReady helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen local safety programs.
StormReady communities are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness. No community is storm proof, but StormReady can help communities save lives.
Auburn is subject to a flooding and flood-related disasters. Everyone should become familiar with the hazards that can affect their specific area and take steps to prepare for them. A brief overview of common flood hazards is presented below, but you can find in-depth descriptions and analysis in our Hazard Mitigation Plan (PDF) which is an annex to the 2009 King County Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Flooding in King and Pierce Counties occurs primarily when large, wet and warm weather systems occur in the Cascade Mountains and after snow packs have accumulated. The combination of melting snow runoff and added precipitation fills rivers within hours and usually builds over one to three days. For this reason, most flooding occurs in the winter months, typically from November through February. Flooding frequently affects the low position in the landscape and thus is more likely to affect the valley floor portion of Auburn, especially near creeks and rivers.
Flooding occurs primarily along the Green and White rivers, with arterial flooding occurring in various low elevation areas throughout the City. River flooding is controlled by upstream dams on both the Green (Howard Hanson Dam) and White (Mud Mountain Dam) rivers, so significant flooding is only expected to occur during very high precipitation events. Areas along the river channel will be affected at low levels of flooding, but much of northern Auburn is susceptible to inundation at higher flood stages. Flooding peaks with heavy rain events, but once precipitation ceases there is a lag period while groundwater drains and floodwaters recede. Minor street flooding related to clogged or slow storm drains happens on a nearly annual basis. The City has not experienced significant flooding since the dams were built.
The National Weather Service is responsible for establishing flood levels for area rivers, as well as for issuing flood watches and warnings for those rivers. King County Department of Natural Resources offers several flood alert systems which rebroadcast National Weather Service information. Those systems can be found on their website . The City of Auburn offers an additional layer of flood notification by rebroadcasting warnings using our CodeRed system, which utilizes phone, text, and e-mail notices. In the event of a flood, the City will utilize some portion of the established lahar/volcano evacuation routes as our flood routes. Each evacuation situation is evaluated individually to ensure proper evacuation support, including sheltering. The entire evacuation and sheltering plan is included in the City's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) (PDF). It is important to note that though the City has established agreements for a large number of emergency shelter locations, both inside and outside the City, those locations are not published in advance due to confidentiality and to ensure that citizens do not attempt to utilize a shelter that is not open. As with all other emergencies, citizens should monitor established media channels, including AM 1700, and follow instructions provided there and via the CodeRed system.
If a moderate to severe flood were to occur along the Green River, approximately 10,000 residents might be directly impacted, along with more than 400 businesses. A flood of the Green River would have a significant economic impact on not just the City, but the entire region, predominantly for neighboring cities along the Green River.
City residents and businesses are eligible for reduced cost flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Visit www.floodsmart.gov to find out if your home or business is in a special flood hazard area, to get a quote for flood insurance, or to find a specially trained flood insurance agent.
Additional information about potential hazards that could occur locally in Auburn can be found on our Local Hazards page.
King County Flooding Services webpage including flood warnings and alerts, road conditions and closures map, and floodplain mapping
In the event of a flood hazard, evacuation routes to higher ground (the surrounding upland hillsides) would enable people to leave the immediate flood hazard within the valley floor in Auburn. Evacuation routes would be the same as those used in the event of volcanic lahar flows (PDF). In the event of a flood-related evacuation, residents and visitors should follow 'Volcano Evacuation Route' signs that are placed around town. In the event of an emergency, The City has multiple emergency shelter locations throughout the greater Auburn area.
If you would like a disaster preparedness course for your community group or business, simply contact the City of Auburn Emergency Preparedness Office at 253-876-1925.
The links above provide river gage data as measured by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service is another source of river gage information. NOAA's National Weather Service Guide to Hydrologic Information on the Web helps explain how to read and interpret the information provided on the above link (NOAA's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service).
Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps and Flood Insurance
King County, Washington
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has produced
Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps
(FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) for the incorporated and
unincorporated areas of King County.
The four volumes (PDF) of the November 6, 2010 Flood Insurance Study (FIS) includes all floodplain areas in King County.
Part of the national Map Modernization Program, the new digital maps can be used with geographic information systems. The mapped information is widely used by lending institutions and insurance agents in determining who must purchase flood insurance and the cost of that insurance should it be necessary. In addition, the maps will be used by the county and local communities for floodplain management and permitting purposes.
The most recent Preliminary FIRMs for the City of Auburn are dated November 6, 2010 and reflect areas where mapping studies that have occurred over the past few years.
If you have questions about the Map Modernization Program, please contact Ted Perkins, FEMA Regional Engineer, 425-487-4684.
If you would like information about King County's floodplain mapping program please contact:
- Jeanne Stypula, Supervising Engineer, King County River and Floodplain Management Section
- Ken Zweig, Project/Program Manager, King County River and Floodplain Management Section
For more information on current mapping related to the City of Auburn, contact Jenna Leonard, Environmental Planner, at 253-804-5092.
More information can be found on the King County Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps and Flood Insurance Study Page.
CITY OF AUBURN REGULATORY FLOODPLAIN MAP
The city of Auburn regulates floodplains beyond the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). View the City of Auburn Regulatory Floodplain map (PDF).
Did you know that you can get a copy of the FEMA elevation certificate for your house or building from the City? View the FEMA elevation certificates below listed by street name and building number. You can view the certificate of your choice by clicking on the building number of the address you are looking for.
If you don't see your house or building's certificate listed below, that means we don't have your FEMA elevation certificate on file at the City. You may email your certificate to email@example.com or bring a copy in to the City's Customer Service Center on the second floor of City Hall Annex located at 1 East Main Street to have it placed in our official FEMA elevation certificate file. The elevation certificates in the following table are all PDF files.
|Street Name||Building Number|
|104th Place SE|
|12th Place NE|
|4th St SE|
|44th St NW|
|50th St NE|
|51st St NE|
|51st Pl NE|
|52nd Pl NE|
|Auburn-Black Diamond Rd|
|Green River Rd SE|
|I St NE|
|I St NW|
|L Ct NE|
|L Pl NE|
|L St NE|
|Outlet Collection Way|
|Pike Place NE|
|Pike Street NE||1210|
News and Notices
Flood Info Mailing 2012 (PDF)
Flood Info Brochure 2016 (PDF)