Prepare Your Property for the Next Big Rain Event

Posted November 24, 2021 at 5:47 am by

Flooding at Lopez’s Odlin Park on Nov. 15th - Photo by Krista Davis

The mas­sive rain event last week caused a wide range of impacts in the coun­ty and caught many islanders off-guard. The severe weath­er was caused by an atmos­pher­ic riv­er: a long, nar­row band of water vapor that often is released as rain or snow when it makes land­fall. While the scope and dam­age may be unprece­dent­ed, the warm­ing atmos­phere caused by cli­mate change means that these kinds of events are like­ly to become more fre­quent and severe.

As we have seen, these extreme weath­er events can present many chal­lenges for our islands. Exces­sive rain­fall can result in flood­ing and land­slides which dam­age homes and busi­ness­es. Roads and cul­verts not designed for these intense storm del­uges can be washed out or struc­tural­ly com­pro­mised. Storm run-off deliv­ers debris and pol­lu­tants to streams and wet­lands before ulti­mate­ly end­ing up in the Sal­ish Sea.

San Juan Coun­ty has been work­ing dili­gent­ly to address these haz­ards. Annu­al street sweep­ing and catch basin clean­ing helps to ensure drains are clear before the storms set in. The Coun­ty is work­ing to assess, repair, and replace cul­verts and drains that are not able to meet the increas­ing demands of high-inten­si­ty and/or long-dura­tion storm events. 

Projects cur­rent­ly in the works includ­ing cul­vert replace­ments at Cor­morant Rd/ Fish­trap Creek, Kille­brew Rd/ Bay­head Creek, (and now Pt Lawrence / Doe Bay Creek due to the storm), and stormwa­ter infra­struc­ture upgrades at Prune Alley on Orcas and the Vil­lage Rd on Lopez, will help to ensure access and avoid future storm dam­age. The County’s Clean Water Util­i­ty, along with Pub­lic Works, fund and imple­ment this impor­tant work.

How can I pre­pare for more rain events like this?

As we clean up and catch our breath from last week’s storm, it’s a great time to con­sid­er the fol­low­ing guid­ance and pre­pare your prop­er­ty for win­ter storms.

  • Make sure your drains and dri­ve­way cul­verts are clear before the rainy sea­son starts and check them often dur­ing Fall as autumn leaves and wind­storms con­tin­u­al­ly clog them.
  • Con­sid­er your lot drainage; there is a del­i­cate bal­ance to be struck. The goal is to divert water away from your home where it can cause dam­age, but you want to avoid de-water­ing your site too much so that you still have the water you need dur­ing the sum­mer dry sea­son to sup­port veg­e­ta­tion and your well recharge.
  • Con­sid­er installing on-site water stor­age sys­tems such as cis­terns or rain bar­rels to cap­ture win­ter rains for use in the dri­er months.
  • Con­sid­er installing a rain gar­den in the wet areas of your prop­er­ty or pro­tect on-site wet­lands to help slow and fil­ter the flow of water through the site.

If you have water run­ning through your prop­er­ty in a stream, wet­land, pond or con­veyance ditch, work with your upstream and down­stream neigh­bors to help one anoth­er under­stand and man­age the storm flows. Lot-to-lot drainage as well as drainage flow­ing through road cross cul­verts are the respon­si­bil­i­ty of indi­vid­ual landown­ers to man­age, with­out caus­ing harm to others. 

The Coun­ty is avail­able to offer some tech­ni­cal assis­tance to landown­ers regard­ing water resources on pri­vate prop­er­ty. Remem­ber, the choic­es you make on your prop­er­ty will affect your down­hill neigh­bors. Thought­ful prepa­ra­tion can help the entire community!

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Categories: Safety, Weather

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