Crews keep eye on drains, hillsides amid storm

Crews keep eye on drains, hillsides amid storm
SEATTLE -- Special patrols were out on flood watch around western Washington on Tuesday, trying to keep storm drains in clear and landslides from bringing down neighborhoods.

Crews in Seattle were working to keep some 30,000 storm drains clear. Despite the maintenance, they feared the looming storm could still overwhelm the system.

"Heavy rains, clogged drains due to debris, to leaves, to salt, to sand -- of all that happens at once, then that could pose a problem," said Ingrid Goodwin of Seattle Public Utilities.

Ryan Fonda remembers last winter when fallen trees blocked a culvert and Thornton Creek spilled into his neighborhood.

"I just can't imagine how terrifying that is to have water coming up to your house and potentially all your stuff flooded," he said.

City hope to sidestep problems of the past when sandbags barely contained rising flood waters. This time, Seattle staged key equipment in those trouble spots.

"Knowing that the water was about to my fence, I was OK, but if I was one of those houses a few houses down, I would be extremely glad to see that equipment," said Fonda.

Landslides are another worry. The soil is already soaked along the Magnolia Bluffs. More rain could cause the ground to give way.

The Aurora corridor east of Queen Anne is another threat zone. Huge swaths of hillside broke loose last year.

West Seattle is another area city crews are closely monitoring. Geologists say this next storm puts all these areas at risk.

Crews planned to keep up patrol Tuesday night, but asked residents to help keep an eye on drainage problems.

"If they are clogged, if they could remove any type of debris that's easily removable, that really helps us out a lot," said Goodwin.