City remaps 2 flood-prone areas
The city redraws its flood maps for two Seattle flood basins.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Pat Scott lives in a flood zone, just feet from Thornton Creek near Matthews Beach Park.
She bought her house more than three years ago and it has never flooded, even in the deluge of 2007. Still, she pays $1,000 a year in flood insurance, a small price, she says, to live in what she calls her "phenomenal little fantasy island."
This week, Scott is one of 900 residents in the Thornton Creek and Densmore Basin areas who will receive letters from Seattle Public Utilities telling them whether their houses are within flood-zone boundaries newly revised by the city.
The city advises residents inside flood zones to purchase insurance, to avoid living in basements and to stay out of low-lying areas during heavy rains.
According to the city, 88 houses have been added to the Thornton Creek zone, which stretches from Lake Washington to Interstate 5. Another 28 homes were added to the Densmore Basin flood zone, which is an old lake bed north of Northgate.
But 196 homes came off the flood map, houses like Cheryl Klinker's, near Meadowbrook on 35th Avenue Northeast. Klinker, who's owned her home since 1995, didn't know she was in a flood zone and never paid for flood insurance. She said she lives atop a steep ravine and while the creek below might swell, it's never come close to flooding her house.
The new flood designations come from maps just produced by Seattle Public Utilities using data from the record-setting 2007 floods. Seattle's flood-prone areas were last mapped in 1987 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Since then, new computer-modeling methods provide more precise predictions of areas likely to flood during big storms.
The city hopes its maps will become the new official FEMA maps.
The mapping effort began with Thornton Creek and Densmore Basin. Over the next several years the city will map along Longfellow Creek, Pipers Creek and the Duwamish River.
Trish Rhay, director of drainage and waste water for Seattle Public Utilities, said residents provided photographs from the 2007 flood that helped the city with its mapping. The new maps also have updated information on topography and how the creeks have changed their courses.
The information in the new maps will be used to notify residents, said Rhay, and will help the city enforce building codes.
According to the city, 624 properties are on the floodplain maps for Thornton Creek and Densmore, a decrease of 196 properties from the old maps.
Scott, a real-estate agent, said she's willing to put up with a flood risk to live in her Matthews Beach home.
"Maybe once every decade we might have water issues," she said. "It's worth it. That's why I pay the insurance."
Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or email@example.com
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