With another drenching atmospheric river heading toward the Bay Area we have a little more than a day to prepare for flooding.
The Santa Clara Valley Water district produced the video below to show the best ways to use sandbags, plastic sheets and plywood to protect your home from flooding.
And here from our archives are some tips from the pros, who recommend you take steps now if your home is in an area that has flooded in the past – or could in the future.
Before floods come
- Identify your risk.
- Dangerously fast-moving floodwaters can flow thousands of feet away from a creek within minutes. While some areas experience transient flooding, others stay submerged for days. There’s a big difference in cost and control strategies.
- How deep might waters get where you live? Look at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps at Enter your address to identify your home’s specific risk of flooding from rivers, storm tides and other hazards.
- Seal cracks in your home’s foundation, exterior walls and small openings around pipes.
- Get sandbags. Here’s a list of Bay Area sites where sand and bags, and in some cases pre-filled sandbags, are available in the Bay Area. Be sure to take your own shovel and remember that filled bags will be heavy – experts recommend filling bags halfway up to make them easier to handle.
- Keep them dry — store them in your garage or wrap them in a tarp. Mine, already soaked and heavy, have begun sprouting weeds.
- Get plywood, duct tape and plastic sheeting such as Visqueen, a brand of durable polyethylene plastic. Cut the plywood to cover whatever needs protecting — a vent, window wells, the lower part of a sliding-glass door, or crawl space under the foundation.
- Lay the plastic on the ground and up or over the wood, with enough extra to wrap around the sandbags.
- Stack sandbags up against the wood, pressed tightly against the opening for support. Stomp them into place. Layer them like bricks, so they’re staggered. The base should be 1.5 times wider than the height.
- Wrap the plastic around the sandbags, like a burrito. Tape it into place.
- Sandbags may also be used to direct the flow of water along the street.
- Keep rain gutters and drainage channels free of debris.
- Disperse water runoff from gutters with downspout extenders.
- See whether you can buy flood insurance. Basic homeowners insurance does not cover losses from flooding. Federal law requires flood insurance if you have a federally regulated mortgage and your building is in a flood zone. Know the name, location and phone number of your agent.
During the floods
- Stay informed. Check Twitter for your local police, fire and other agencies, go city or county websites to sign up for emergency notifications if you haven’t already done so.
- Elevate your belongings. Make sure to place electronics, important paperwork, valuable items and any pesticides, cleaners or other chemicals on shelves — or relocate them to a higher floor.
- If you are asked to leave your property, disconnect all electrical appliances. Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Water can snuff out a pilot light, causing your home to fill with dangerous natural gas. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
- Implement your emergency backup plan. Load key items into your car, and perhaps park your car outside the flooding area. Identify safe routes to high ground and a place where your family can meet and sleep.
- Keep a portable battery-powered radio handy, along with flashlight and emergency food and water supply.