Urgent Need to Prepare for Flooding from El Nino Storms

Urgent Need to Prepare for Flooding from El Niño Storms – Summary for EBMC Community

By Abe Doherty, EBMC sangha member who has been professionally involved in related work

December 2015

FEMA and the Weather Service have informed Californians that there will likely be many storms from late December 2015 through March 2016, due to the strong El Niño conditions and that there is the possibility of disasters from flooding. FEMA specifically identifies the East Bay’s water system (EBMUD) as being vulnerable to impacts from the storms. Here are some practical steps to be prepared:

1. HIGHEST PRIORITY. Store water supplies at home and work, with a minimum of one gallon per person per day for a total of 3 days and ideally for 7 days (so 3-7 gallons for each person). Pets will also need clean water to drink. We recommend bottles that do not contain the chemical BPA. For more information, see http://www.simplesteps.org/questions/can-i-get-five-gallon-water-jugs-dont-leach-bpa

2. Check www.weather.gov for National Weather Service forecasts and weather advisories to be aware of when hazardous conditions are present or imminent. (NWSBayArea on Twitter)

3. Get sand bags to protect from flooding: free sand bags are distributed by many local governments. Contact your city government.

4. If you own a home, consider buying flood insurance as soon as possible. It takes 30 days before flood insurance becomes effective. FEMA offers flood insurance that is much cheaper (e.g., $200-$400 annually) than earthquake insurance.

5. Make sure you have supplies in case of electricity outages, along with emergency supply kits that include copies of important documents.

6. Develop a family emergency plan with your loved ones.

7. Turn around, don’t drown. A mere 6 inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a small car, while 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles. It is NEVER safe to drive or walk into flood waters.

8. Be careful when near the shoreline since there are elevated sea levels and higher waves during El Niño.

9. Even with the potential for flooding, the drought will persist and water conservation remains important. See http://saveourwater.com/ for further information, including rebates for toilet and turf replacement.

10. See www.storms.ca.gov and www.fema.gov/el-nino for more information.

11. Support safety of your neighborhood by adopting a storm drain to minimize flooding from blocked storm drains: http://adoptadrainoakland.com/

12. Consider getting training on how to support vulnerable community members during a disaster, by becoming a member of Community Emergency Response Teams

Note: FEMA is hiring 500 people (social workers, construction workers, engineers, etc.) to help with responding to the storms.