BE PREPARED FOR FLOODS TO SAVE LIFE AND PROPERTY
Even during periods of drought, it is important to understand that flooding can and will still happen here in Ventura County.
In addition to information shown here, always check “Ready Ventura County“, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) website in the event of any emergency. The OES maintains the site in partnership with a number of County agencies and departments to provide critical information as emergencies occur. The OES website is a great way to learn disaster preparedness and to find contact information for the participating agencies and departments.
Weather patterns here in Ventura County are cyclical. Those who have resided in our County for many years will remember the 1969, 1978, 1980, and 1983 storm events. More recently, we had the 1992, 1995 and 1998 wet years with associated flooding. Most residents will remember the dramatic 2003 rainfalls and the devastating effects of the 2005 rains. The 2005 storms of January and February brought substantial flooding and consequently much damage to flood control facilities, and other infrastructure like roads, bridges and public buildings. Dozens of homes and businesses throughout southern California were affected by runoff or local flooding events, but smart people do their best to prepare before a flood event even occurs.
There are steps to take now that will minimize financial or property losses during floods, and the Watershed Protection District is doing its part to strengthen community resiliency from flood damage. Our staff works year-round to maintain over 200 miles of channels, basins, and pump stations within the County jurisdiction areas.
Annual clean-out scheduling helps keep channels and basins operating as designed. Field crews maintain pump stations, and install and maintain trash-racks to eliminate debris before it gets into runoff channels. We optimize many types of facilities to minimize the chance of flooding such as lining underground pipes, repairing and replacing any damaged concrete structures, and covering inner-channel stream banks or levees with “rip-rap” (rocky boulder) sidewalls that help minimize erosion. Trimming in-channel overgrowth, and removing sediment and rocks that can reduce flow volume or stream channel carrying capacity for rushing floodwaters are also important measures the Watershed Protection District Operations and Maintenance (O&M) crews perform constantly.
We use the latest modern technology at dozens of strategically-placed rain measurement stations and stream flow gauges to monitor floodwaters in real-time – both with boots on the ground staff, and by monitoring remote sensing stations from the County Government Administration Storm Operations Control (SOC) room. By downloading sensor and gauge data in real-time, we can alert County emergency responders to potential problem areas “24-7” during storm events. We also plan for future needs as our channel infrastructure ages and more homes are built that will rely on flood control facilities for even more regional flood protection.
Homeowners and residents can do a lot to help minimize property losses from flooding conditions.
Some good steps to take include:
- Make an inventory of all your valuables and belongings, then store that document or list out of the reach of floodwaters – preferably offsite – perhaps in a bank safe deposit box.
- Raise large appliances like washing machines, compressors, generators,refrigerators, freezers,or dishwashers a foot or more above the anticipated flood level.
- Learn how to acquire sandbags (https://www.vcpublicworks.org/wpd/sandbag101/) and get familiar on how to place them to do the most good when floodwaters threaten your property.
- Make a flood response plan and make sure everyone in your family knows the plan: What is your evacuation route? Who can everyone contact if family members are separated?
- Teach your family about the dangers of electric lines and floodwaters, and have umbrellas, rubber boots, waders, and rain coats handy or accessible along with flashlights and other items that might be needed during heavy rains.
- Assign a relative or friend living away from you as an emergency contact and be sure everyone in your family has that contact information (preferably in another state or area code).
- Having enough food and water is essential to “get by” during a flooding emergency. So are cellphones, radios, batteries, flashlights, medical prescriptions, extra eyeglasses and basic first aid items. Be sure to store those supplies up high– well above the anticipated flood level, and keep extra batteries on hand, or charge battery-operated items regularly.
- Don’t forget pets, they will also need enough food to get by for a possible duration of several days.
- When making improvements to your landscaping, design with an eye toward flood protection as well as aesthetics. Retaining walls and other structures can help potentially divert floodwaters. Deep-rooted trees and bushes can help anchor slopes and hopefully prevent landslides and reduce erosion.
- Purchasing a separate flood insurance policy is a good idea too, since most home insurance policies do not cover flooding.
If rains are predicted, save the links listed below on your smartphone for easy access to current storm related information:
Current storm information: http://vcwatershed.net/fws/
Live map showing radar returns for current and past precipitation: http://www.vcwatershed.net/fws/gmap.html
Sigalert (live highway closures map): http://www.sigalert.com/
National Weather Service: http://www.weather.gov/
To learn more you can check some of these resources on the web:
Information about flood insurance discounts in unincorporated Ventura County areas: http://www.vcfloodinfo.com
Flood Smart: http://www.FloodSmart.gov
Learn more about sandbags and where to obtain supplies by checking out our Sandbag 101 page.