City of Seattle and Residents Respond to Unprecedented, Climate Change-Fueled Flooding in South Park

City of Seattle and Residents Respond to Unprecedented, Climate Change-Fueled Flooding in South Park
Photo credit Machinist Inc. Flooding in South Park.

The climate crisis – and its consequences – is not only a future challenge, but it’s clearly felt now in Seattle as heavy rains have pushed the Duwamish River over its banks and flooded many homes and businesses in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood.

South Park is a frontline community for the impacts of climate change. While Seattle can expect about two feet of sea level rise by mid-century and five feet by the end of the century due to climate change, low-lying areas like South Park will experience more frequent and intense flooding as a result of the rise sea ​​level and heavy. precipitation. The Duwamish Valley, including the residential and industrial areas of South Park, is among the most vulnerable areas in Seattle to these impacts.

The impacts of flooding and sea level rise are devastating and city departments are working with partners to provide immediate relief to affected residents and workers. Seattle Public Services took the lead in supporting the affected families and has provided emergency housing for some of the families who could not return to their homes. Local partners like the Duwamish River Community Coalition have been on site providing residents with supplies and access to resources.

Mayor Harrell and City of Seattle staff with the DRCC working to support residents displaced or otherwise affected by flooding in South Park.
The Duwamish River Community Coalition works to distribute supplies and connect residents with city resources and support.

What are we doing about the impacts of climate change in the Duwamish Valley?

Adapting to sea level rise in Seattle is imperative, and given the low elevation and flat topography of the Duwamish Valley, we should start in South Park and Georgetown. In 2020, Seattle’s Duwamish Valley Program applied for and received funding to initiate climate change adaptation planning in a holistic way, one that addresses community priorities and promotes health equity by centering the voices and needs of Black, Indigenous, color (BIPOC). , and low-income individuals and promotes health equity. Funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will support the city with the development of a Resilience District – a geographic strategy, inspired by global models, focused on adapting to flood risk and other climate change impacts as a key first step towards adapting to a changing climate, taking a holistic approach that fosters community resilience.

A resilient zone is an innovative proposal to prepare, cope, adapt and recover from the challenges arising from environmental issues, climate change and the pressure of economic displacement.

Through the Duwamish Valley Resilience District initiative, Seattle and community partners are exploring ways to stabilize communities as we make critical investments to reduce climate risk and adapt to the impacts we’re already seeing. Over the next few years, the city will work with residents and businesses to develop community organizational structures, funding mechanisms and infrastructure investments to ensure that families and businesses can thrive locally.

Mayor Harrell’s One Seattle Climate Justice Agenda is also accelerating additional investments in building community resilience to climate change. Seattle’s Green New Deal focuses on partnerships and investments in those most affected by the climate crisis, and the Duwamish Valley Program addresses historic and ongoing environmental and health disparities in the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods.

To learn more about Seattle’s climate justice work, visit

If you experience flooding, please make sure people and pets are safe. If it is a life-threatening emergency, please call 911. For urgent but non-life-threatening flooding, please call SPU’s 24/7 Operations Response Center at (206) 386-1800.

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