Where Is The Best Place To Go If A Dam Breaks In Washington State?

So as a kid growing up in Clarkston Washington, the biggest threat from a dam in the area is the Dworshak Dam. I remember being told that if the dam ever broke, we'd have to head to high ground.

By Visitor7 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26806721
By Visitor7 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26806721
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Here Are The Five Safest Things You Can Do If A Dam Breaks In Washington State

Now imagine being told that at 10 years old, you start having nightmares about such a scenario. It didn't happen forty-some years later for me but anything is possible.

FEMA has some great tips on their website and I thought I'd share five places and things you could do if a dam breaks along the Columbia River.

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Higher Ground: One of the safest places to be if a dam breaks is on higher ground. Dams typically fail due to overtopping or structural issues, causing massive amounts of water to rush downstream. Being on higher ground can help you avoid being swept away by the floodwaters. Look for hills, mountains, or even tall buildings that can serve as safe havens during a dam failure emergency.

Evacuation Routes: It's essential to familiarize yourself with evacuation routes in your area in case of a dam break. Local emergency management agencies have designated evacuation routes that are designed to lead residents to safety quickly and efficiently. Make sure you know these routes and have a plan in place for evacuating your home and getting to higher ground as soon as possible.

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Emergency Shelters: In the event of a dam break, emergency shelters will be set up by local authorities to provide temporary housing for those displaced by the disaster. These shelters are typically located in safe areas away from the flood zone and offer food, water, and medical assistance for those in need. Make sure you know where these shelters are located in your community so you can quickly access them if necessary.

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Community Centers: Community centers can also serve as safe locations during a dam break emergency. These facilities are often equipped with supplies like food, water, blankets, and first aid kits that can help sustain individuals until more extensive assistance arrives. Additionally, community centers may have communication systems in place to keep residents informed about the situation and provide updates on evacuation procedures.

Stay Informed: Perhaps the most critical aspect of staying safe during a dam break is staying informed about the situation as it unfolds. Monitor local news channels, radio stations, and social media for updates from emergency management agencies regarding the status of the dam and evacuation orders. Having accurate information will help you make informed decisions about where to go and what steps to take to protect yourself and your loved ones.

https://nps.gov/
https://nps.gov/
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FEMA has a great website with more details here and yes there is a cool database where you can see all the current inspections and locations of all of the dams in Washington State.

You'll be surprised at how many we have in the state. You can take a look at the database here.

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