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Protecting Puget Sound Homes: Olympia Geotechnical Engineer Shares Tips for Rainy Season

Olympia geotechnical engineer
Homeowner tips for rainy season from a geotechnical engineer in Olympia, Wash.

The rainy season is back in the Pacific Northwest.

What can homeowners do now to prepare for the rainy months ahead?

Olympia-based geotechnical engineer Calvin McCaughan has lived here since he was 5.

“Rain can be fun as a kid,” Calvin said. “Who doesn’t love a good splash in a puddle? But as an adult I know rain can also wreak havoc.”

Geotechnical engineers work with earth materials like soil and rock, and landslide mitigation is a big part of the job. Calvin and the team at Sage Geotechnical offer these tips to prepare your home for the season.

Assess your risk

Do you live on a hillside or have retaining walls in your yard? What about areas that seem to fill with water after heavy rains?

Start with a broad overview of your property and then look for smaller problem areas that could cause issues down the line.

Control drainage

This week, clear gutters, downspouts, and ditches of fallen leaves and any other debris.

Long-term, direct rainwater away from slopes and keep it away from your home’s foundation.

Keep slopes stable with vegetation

Slopes with deep-rooted native plants have a lower risk of sliding. Keep any vegetation you already have in these places and, come early spring, consider replacing invasive plants with native plants to make it even stronger.

Check your retaining walls

If you have any retaining walls or other slope stabilization measures, check their drainage systems this week to ensure the outlets are not blocked. Check for cracks, tilting, or other signs of movement.

Check for signs of soil movement

Look around your house and yard for any tilting trees or leaning retaining walls and for any new cracks in the pavement or lawn. Any of these could be cause for concern.

Think ahead for building or construction projects this winter

If you’re planning any construction or major landscaping work near slopes, consult with a geotechnical engineer before you begin.

Look into landslide insurance

If you think your property might be at risk for landslides, check into the insurance you currently have and determine if landslide insurance can be added.

“I’ve been here for almost 40 years now,” Calvin said. “Rainy season is part of the price we pay for living in such a beautiful place, and it’s great to know there are things we can do to prepare.”

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