Extreme dry conditions can harden the ground and increase runoff to streams and creeks during the first few days of heavy rain, increasing the risk of flooding.
Anytime it can rain, it can flood.
Don’t get caught off-guard; be flood-safe with tips from Valley Water.
The first step toward being flood-ready is preparing for an emergency. Discuss with members of your household what to do during a disaster. Agree on a meeting spot in case you are separated, and make sure everyone knows a safe route to higher ground in the event of flooding. Identify emergency contacts both in and out of town, and a caretaker for individuals with special needs or pets. Write these details down and share a copy with everyone. For tips on preparing your emergency plan, visit www.valleywater.org/floodready.
After designing your plan, start putting together an emergency kit with tools and supplies, non-perishable food, and water. When gathering water, remember you’ll need 3 gallons per person. Keep a copy of your emergency plan in your kit.
3. Download disaster and emergency apps (both available on Apple App Store and Google Play)
Preparing for emergencies can be overwhelming. You can register for Santa Clara County’s emergency alerts by downloading the free preparedness app “ReadySCC” on your smartphone. The app will guide you on making an emergency plan by answering five simple questions. Another useful tool is the Red Cross Flood App, which will allow you to receive flood alerts based on your location.
You don’t have to live next door to a creek to be flooded. Visit http://www.valleywater.org/floodready to check whether your house or business is in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and learn how to interpret FEMA flood maps. You can also call your local floodplain manager to find out whether your property is in or out of a floodplain (see the phone list on this mailer). Your floodplain manager will have information about additional problems not shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), flood depth data, special flood-related hazards, historical flood information, and natural floodplain functions areas. They can also provide you with flood insurance information and may have an elevation certificate for your property on file. Contact Valley Water’s Community Projects Review for additional assistance at 408-630-2650.
If you do live in a FEMA-designated SFHA and have a federally insured mortgage, you are required to insure your property from flood hazards. Most homeowners’ insurance policies don’t cover damage from natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods. According to FEMA, floods are the most common natural disaster. The chance of a 1 percent flood* occurring during the lifetime of a typical 30-year mortgage is greater than 1 in 4. Even if you don’t live in an SFHA, you can get extra protection by purchasing flood insurance. Be aware that there’s typically a 30-day waiting period for the policy to take effect. Renters insurance is also available through the National Flood Insurance Program. To find a local agent call 1-800-427-4661, visit floodsmart.gov or valleywater.org/floodready. *A 1 percent flood is a flood that has a 1 percent or greater chance of occurring in any given year
Valley Water offers free, filled sandbags for residents of Santa Clara County. Loose sand and empty bags for self-filling are also available; please make sure to bring a shovel, just in case. It’s important to note you will need additional materials like plywood and plastic sheeting for optimal protection. Sandbags may protect from a foot of floodwater or less. For a list of locations and tips on proper sandbag usage, including property protection advice for your home, visit: http://www.valleywater.org/floodready or call 408-630-2650.
Healthy, flowing creeks reduce flood risks by carrying stormwaters away from properties and roads. Don’t pollute, dump, or drain anything in creeks. Dumping into a stream is illegal and affects water quality, creek habitat, and can cause blockages, increasing flood risks. Report blockages like wood or debris and dumping in creeks to the Valley Water watershed hotline at 408-630-2378. If you see a substance polluting a creek, pond or reservoir, call 1-888-510-5151 at any time. You can also report these activities through the Access Valley Water customer service system at bit.ly/AVW-scvwd.
Never walk or drive through flooded areas, no matter how shallow. Six inches of moving water can cause an adult to fall. One foot of water is enough to float away a vehicle, including SUVs and pick-up trucks. Floodwaters can also be contaminated with 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.
9. Build responsibly in flood plains
Construction within Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) zones has special permit requirements from your city government. Property owners can also make physical alterations to buildings to reduce risks and flood insurance premiums, such as elevating a structure. Check with your local floodplain manager first to ensure compliance with special requirements before you build or begin upgrades to your home. Contact your local floodplain manager for more information. For additional resources on flood protection and keeping your home and business safe, visit http://www.valleywater.org/floodready