Yakima has started building up levees and cleaning out debris to prepare for flood season

Yakima has started building up levees and cleaning out debris to prepare for flood season.

YAKIMA, Wash. - The City of Yakima is hard at work right now to prevent a disaster.

Terri Keenhan, with the Water Resource Division, said Yakima had one of the worst winters in history and that led to major flooding throughout the city.

"We had a long-lasting snow pack which we hadn't seen in 15 years at the lower elevations," he said.

It was the perfect storm. One of the worst snowpacks in history quickly followed by warm temperatures in spring.

Cliff Moore, Yakima city manager, said the city is starting to take steps at the beginning of fall to make sure they don't fall behind at the end of winter.

"On a day like today, it's kind of hard to think about flooding, but we know that winter is coming."

He said they are focusing on shoring up the Wide Hollow and Cowiche Creek levees because of how much damage they caused earlier this year.

The Cowiche Creek levee is privately owned, but Moore says they were able to work with the owner so Yakima can clean it up and maintain it during flood season.

"We'll be clearing out some of the debris that has collected up behind that levee and making sure that it's likely to withstand anything that might come down stream this winter,” he said.

The city has been working with the Washington Department of Transportation and the Yakima County Water Resources Division to make sure they can come up with better ways to protect the city.

"The three of us have been working as partners, because the problem is to get the water underneath the WSDOT bridges before it goes sideways, goes into town and causes a high level of destruction," Keenhan said.

The city also plans on meeting with emergency management teams to come out with an action plan before flood season gets here, so everyone knows if they are in the flood zone and what to do if they are in it.

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