Mudslides Threaten Clinton Homes
— Created January 13, 2021 by Kathy Reed
By Alec Brown
Some homes in Clinton may be threatened by mudslides and saturated ground issues in the coming weeks.
Director for the Island County Department of Emergency Management, Eric Brooks, is looking into the issue and has recommendations for anyone living in the area and beyond.
“As the majority of Island County is made up of glacial till, we expect there to be some kind of landslide activity from year to year,” Brooks said. “This is particularly true when we have periods of increased precipitation. Our first priority for the slides in Clinton is to ensure that the residents are safe and have a place to stay. We work with our partners such as South Whidbey Fire and EMS and the Red Cross to ensure these needs are met.”
Brooks and DEM staff work together to protect and educate the public for disasters.
“Through our mitigation and preparedness efforts we develop, maintain and improve our capabilities as well as coordinate and integrate all activities necessary for responding to, and recovering from, natural disasters, acts of violence/terrorism, or other man-made disasters,” said Brooks.
The next two weeks’ weather is looking dicey. Almost every day is set to have showers, and the temperatures probably won’t go above 50. When it comes to ground saturation around Clinton, Brooks has several recommendations for ways to stay safe.
“First and foremost, stay away from any hazardous areas,” Brooks advised. “While you might be tempted to clear mud and debris from an area, this may exacerbate the hazard. Wait until the area is dry and deemed safe. This may entail having a geotechnical engineer evaluate the hillside. A good resource for homeowners is the Homeowners Guide to Landslides [at] islandcountywa.gov.
“Monitor and stay aware of weather conditions, especially during the winter months,” he continued. “You can do this through standard media, NOAA weather radios or the AlertSense Emergency Notification System,to name a few.”
Additionally, there is an Island County Emergency Preparedness app available for download to access a library of preparedness tools.
“The Island County Emergency Preparedness app has many tools that can help individuals and families prepare for emergencies and disasters,” Brooks said. “Some of these include: Create a personalized emergency plan on your phone or tablet for your family; set up an easy emergency alert status that can be sent to your out-of-area contacts; check for alerts, such as special weather statements, warnings and advisories, under the alerts tab.”
Brooks suggests locating where the services are in one’s area. Services such as grocery stores, hospitals and pet shelters are listed through the app. There are several training and information guides in the app as well, such as how to help people prepare for earthquakes, winter storms, preparedness for those with functional needs and preparedness for children and pets. Maps are included on the app to identify shelters, closures, and other important information.
“Another nice feature in the app that most people don’t know about is the ‘tools’ tab, which is located in the menu,” he said. “You can access this window by clicking the three lines located in the top left corner of the app. The tools section can turn on your phone’s flashlight function, use your flashlight as an SOS beacon and play an SOS alarm sound from your device.”
Beyond the issues facing Clinton, Brooks had a number of tips for preparing for other disasters.
“Don’t wait until after a disaster to figure out what you need,” he cautioned. “Check your insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage for potential hazards. Many people think they are covered for a particular event only to find out they are not, after the fact. Be ready for any hazard. Think about the things you use often and how you would manage if you were without power, water, heat, or unable to travel. Build your emergency kit accordingly.
“For power outages, we recommend that Puget Sound Energy customers sign up for text message alerts,” Brooks continued. “In the event your power goes out, PSE can notify you that power is out at your address and give an estimation when power will be restored. You can also access a power outage map through the PSE phone app, or through your phone’s web browser. For our Camano Island residents, SnoPUD does not currently have a text alert system in place for power outages, but their power outage map is accessible on mobile devices.”
And last but not least, he had a few tidbits for enduring windstorms, which are common to the area.
“Listen to the weather forecast,” Brooks stated. “Windstorms are often forecasted hours or days in advance. Secure any items outside your home. Have your emergency kit and plan up to date in case the power goes out. Make sure your car is filled up with gas in case the stations do not have back-up power.”