Is your family flood ready? Do you know if you live in a flood zone? As we go through our rainy season, we need to remember that the weather in California is unpredictable. Climate Change has made extreme weather the new normal and we need to be ready for floods.
At Valley Water, we are dedicated to keeping residents and businesses safe. In the last few decades, we have invested more than $1 billion in flood protection programs. Our efforts, and those of our partners, have led to the removal of nearly 100,000 parcels from flood zones. This means you may now qualify for a lower cost flood insurance policy, whether you own or rent.
You can take precautions to keep your family, property, and business flood safe. You don’t need to share a fence with a creek to experience a flood. Many residents are unknowingly exposed to flood risks from storms, backed-up storm drains, and run-off from overtopping creeks.
We have many useful links and resources for you at www.valleywater.org/Floodready so you can be ready when extreme weather strikes.
Follow these nine essential tips and GET FLOOD READY!
Make a family emergency plan
The first step toward being flood-ready is being prepared for any emergency.
Next time you’re all together at the dinner table, discuss how you will communicate during a disaster. Agree on a family meeting spot in case you are separated, and make sure everyone knows a safe route to higher ground in the event of flooding. Identify key emergency contacts both in and out of town, and a caretaker for individuals with special needs or pets.
Write all these details down and share a copy with each family member.
Put your emergency kit together
After designing your plan, start putting an emergency kit or “go-bag” together with essential items.
Make the next family outing a trip to the store to gather tools and supplies, non-perishable food, and water. FEMA recommends enough supplies to make it through three days on your own. When gathering water, remember you’ll need a gallon of water per person per day. Keep a copy of your family emergency plan in your kit or go-bag, complete with copies of important documents such as homeowner or rental policies, medication, and doctor contact information.
See more recommended supplies here.
Download disaster and emergency apps
Preparing for emergencies can be overwhelming. If you don’t know where to start, download Santa Clara County’s emergency preparedness app “ReadySCC” on your smartphone from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Stay informed of potential flood threats with the Red Cross Flood App, available for free in English and Spanish. Once you are registered, you will receive flood watches and warning alerts from the National Weather Service for your location.
Know your flood risk
You don’t have to live next door to a creek to be flooded from storms, backed-up storm drains and run-off from overtopping creeks. Learn the location of your neighborhood streams and the direction in which they flow.
Parts of Santa Clara County are susceptible to flooding each year, with any chance of heavy storms. To check whether your house is in a FEMA designated flood zone, enter your address on the FEMA Flood Map Service Center.
Insure your property from flood hazards
If you do live in a FEMA designated flood zone, you are required to purchase flood insurance if you have a federally insured mortgage. Renter’s insurance is also available through the National Flood Insurance Program. To find a local agent, you can go online or call the NFIP help center at 1-800-427-4661.
Even if you have a policy already, most homeowners and renter’s insurance policies don’t cover damage from natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods. You need a separate policy, and there is usually a 30-day waiting period.
Protect your home from flood threats
The water district offers free, filled sandbags for residents of Santa Clara County. For a list of locations and tips on proper usage, visit valleywater.org/sandbags. Loose sand and empty bags for self-filling are also available at various locations; make sure to bring a shovel, just in case.
Before a storm, examine your house for cracks in the foundation, exterior walls, as well as small openings around pipes and seal them. Elevate important utility structures such as electrical panels, switches, sockets, wiring, appliances and heating systems.
Help keep creeks clean and flowing
Healthy, flowing creeks reduce flood risks by carrying stormwaters away from properties and roads. Dumping anything into a creek is illegal and affects water quality, creek habitat, and can cause blockages, increasing flood risks.
Report spills, blockages or dumping in creeks by calling our watershed hotline at 408-630-2378 or through the Access Valley Water customer service system.
Avoid floodwaters, no matter how shallow
Never walk through or drive through flooded areas. Six inches of moving water can cause an adult to fall. One foot of water is enough to float away a vehicle.
Floodwaters can also be contaminated from oil, gasoline, or raw sewage, and can hide downed power lines that may have electrically charged the water. Never allow children to play in floodwaters.
Build responsibly in floodplains
Construction within FEMA flood zones have special permit requirements from your city government, so you don’t alter natural drainage channels. Before you build or begin upgrades to your home, contact your city’s building department for more information.
Property owners can also make physical alterations to buildings to reduce risks and flood insurance premiums.
Remember, we all need to prepare for floods. Every California county has experienced a federally declared flood disaster in the past 20 years.
Be aware. Be prepared. Take action.