Flood Authority revamps public website

Long criticized for having a “public website” that required a password to access, the Chehalis Basin Flood Authority recently launched a new website that is password free — and provides access to early warning data the Flood Authority has accumulated to provide emergency managers more of a heads up in case a river tied to the Chehalis River is heading to a flood stage.

The new website is accessible at www.chehalisriverflood.com and has been created by consultant OneRain of Colorado. The project has cost the Flood Authority more than $300,000, which includes not just creation of the website, but also the addition of rain gauges.

“The system provides real-time access to flooding data, information and maps, as well as rain, stream, reservoir, wind, temperature, and other weather information,” according to a notice from the Flood Authority.

The creation of special flood inundation maps is of special note. If you live near Porter, you can head to the website and put in the Chehalis River’s current flood level to get a good approximation of how bad the flooding could really be.

The Flood Authority’s 12 jurisdictions are sharing in the costs to maintain the website, which costs about $50,000 annually. Cosmopolis Mayor Vickie Raines, the group’s chairwoman, says one of the issues the Flood Authority members will have to deal with in the next few years is who will consistently pay for the annual maintenance costs for not just the website, but also the river and rain gauges.

The previous website required both a user name and a password — which were all made public — but it confused much of the public, Raines said.

“Right now, we’re working to re-design the website a bit to make it even more user-friendly,” Raines said. “Getting rid of the password was a big step.”

The home page for the website is a bit simplistic, but the information contained within it could really be helpful to the public, Raines says.

Besides the inundation maps, there are direct links to different gauges, the Weather Service’s Doppler system and a page where all of the flood warnings and statements can be found.