As fall storms bring down leaves, Puget Sound-area residents are asked to help keep debris off street drains. It's part of the "Take Winter By Storm" campaign.

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When Carrie Parker talks about “crazy rainy days,” you know what she means:

Those are the days when rain doesn’t just fall. It spatters. It sloshes. It turns roadways into rivers.

Parker, as a drainage and wastewater manager for Seattle Public Utilities, needs to be ready for those days.

But she and other utility workers around the Puget Sound area are asking the rest of us to pitch in, too.

As part of the annual “Take Winter By Storm” campaign, they’d like us to check storm-drain covers near our homes, keep them clear of leaves and debris and report any problems.

With leaves ready to fall, a wet, windy storm can quickly bring down enough leaves to clog street drains, putting streets and sidewalks underwater.

Utilities work around the clock to clear storm drains. But in the peak of a storm, the numbers work against them. Seattle has a few dozen trucks and crews normally available, but 80,000 street drains.

On a normal rainy day, Parker said, the agency’s Operations Response Center might get about 150 calls to deal with clogged drains and other flooding-related problems. But in a severe storm, the number can be between 1,000 and 1,500.

That was the case in December 2006, when heavy rains triggered a mudslide and flooding that drowned a woman in the basement of her Madison Valley home.

In the area’s recent long, dry stretch, crews cleared storm drains throughout the area. But just one storm can undo their work.

If you see a drain covered by leaves, don’t lift the cover off, utility workers say. The metal covers are heavy and trying to lift them can cause injuries. Just help clear away the stuff above the surface and call your utility to deal with the rest.

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or