The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) urges Californians to be proactive and prepare for flooding before the winter storm season begins November 1.
Flood Preparedness Week 2019: October 19-26
Over the past several years, wildfires throughout the state have increased the danger of landslides, mud flows, and debris flows that can rush down fire-scarred hillsides. After wildfires, when rain falls in burn areas, the ground cannot absorb the water, so it flows downhill and may pick up topsoil and debris. On average, debris flows are 10-15 feet high, but they can be deeper than 35 feet, reach 35 miles per hour, and travel miles from where they begin.
Communities and individuals usually have hours or days to prepare for river flooding; however, flash flooding, mud flows, and debris flows happen in a matter of minutes. Early preparation and evacuation is key. It is crucial for people and communities living downslope of a burn area to follow three basic steps:
- Be aware of your risk: Know whether your home is downslope of a burn area; pay attention to weather forecasts; and listen to local authorities.
- Be prepared: Always have an emergency evacuation kit ready; be prepared to evacuate early; have a household inventory with copies of critical documents; and have a plan for where you will go in an emergency and what to do with your pets.
- Take action: Evacuate immediately when advised to. Also, homeowners’ insurance does not cover damage due to flooding; please consider purchasing flood insurance.
High Water Mark
Many local communities across California are working with federal and state agencies to place signs that show where flooding has occurred and how deep the water was to increase the public’s awareness of flood risk. Through a partnership between the Delta Protection Commission, DWR, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the East Bay Regional Park District, a sign was installed at the Big Break Regional Shoreline in October 2018. Also in October, the City of Sacramento will install a new high water mark sign at Miller Bend Park.
Our warming climate combines rising sea levels, higher tides, rapid snowmelt, and abrupt river runoff to increase the height, frequency, and impacts of floods. Knowing where past flooding has reached its highest depths can help residents better plan for future emergencies.
- Look up your address on MyHazards to discover hazards in your area and learn steps to reduce personal risk.
- Share flood preparedness information with neighbors, students, family, and friends.
- Teach them how to prepare an emergency supply kit and evacuation plan.
- Establish a family communication plan for emergencies. Your family may not be together during an emergency so think about how you will communicate and where you will meet following an evacuation. Periodically review your plan.
- Keep storm drains clear. If your property is prone to flooding, have sandbags, plastic sheeting, and other flood-fighting materials on hand.
- Learn how to turn off water, gas, and electricity connections to your home in the event that your home is flooded. Contact your local utility companies for their help.
- Do not try to escape rising floodwater by going into the attic unless you have roof access or unless it’s your only option.
- Consider flood insurance. Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Ask your insurance agent about obtaining flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. Typically, a 30-day wait period is required before a flood insurance policy takes effect. Contact your insurance provider for more information.
- Driving through flood waters is extremely dangerous; more people are trapped and die in their vehicles than anywhere else during a flood.
- It’s important to be prepared and aware of potential hazards when you’re away from home.
- For more tips on vehicles and flood waters, see NOAA’s Flooding Safety Card (PDF), which can be printed and stored in the glovebox. “Turn around don’t drown!”™
- Maintaining emergency supply kits in your home, vehicle, and work can provide essential supplies during the initial days following a flood. Examples of emergency supply kits can be found at Ready.gov.
- Be sure to include any medications necessary for you and your family.
- If you have pets, you can access the list of supplies recommended by the Red Cross and other agencies.
- Periodically check supplies and refresh water, food, batteries, and first aid items when needed.
- Be aware of the possibility of flooding to make sure you and your family have adequate time to prepare for an evacuation. Maintain awareness of incoming storms, weather watches, warnings, and evacuations issued by the National Weather Service.
- Television and radio stations are a source of weather forecasts and emergency messages before and during a severe weather event.
- Consider purchasing a radio capable of picking up National Weather Service broadcast frequencies.
American Red Cross
The Red Cross has developed applications for your smartphone to help you understand and prepare for emergencies, including flooding. Download these applications from iTunes and Google Play app stores.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
The FEMA Mobile App helps you plan for and respond to natural disasters.
NOAA Weather Radio App
The NOAA Weather Radio App provides up-to-date weather information and alerts.
The ReUnite app from the National Institute of Health helps connect lost family members and friends in a disaster situation.
Watch these videos to learn about:
Flood After Fire
- Being prepared if you live near an area burned by wildfire
- Learn about debris flows and why it's important to be aware and prepared
Or visit DWR's flood channel on YouTube to see more videos.
- California Data Exchange Center (CDEC)
- California Nevada River Forecast Center
- CalOES My Hazards
- FEMA National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) GIS Data - Perform Spatial Analyses and Make Custom Maps and Reports
- FEMA National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) - New Products and Services for FEMA's Flood Hazard Map
- FEMA National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) - View Custom Combinations of FEMA Flood Hazard Information Using Google Earth (TM)
- Levee Flood Protection Zone
- Stay Dry: A Basic Application to View FEMA Flood Hazard Information Using Google Earth (TM)