By Zach Friend, County Supervisor 2nd District
As we head into the rainy season it’s always good to do some advance preparations for your home or business. Last year’s wet winter caused over $129 million in damage to public roads and facilities in the unincorporated county.
Even though great strides have been made to repair some of the major damages, a multi-year rebuilding effort (with significant costs) is still ahead. If we have a similar winter we can expect additional flooding, mudslides, road damage and downed trees. As we saw last year, this means that some neighborhoods might have limited access or even be cut off from access for a period of time. What can you do to prepare and what is the County doing ahead of the winter to get ready?
One of the first things that you can do is visit the County’s winter prep resource page: www.santacruzcounty.us/elnino – while it was originally created for a previous year’s El Nino it has been updated and provides a wealth of information on what to do before, during and after a storm. It provides checklists on what to have on hand at your home, contact numbers and more. This information is also available via the County’s free mobile app (called Citizen Connect), which also allows for the reporting of non-emergency road hazards and more.
In advance of the season Public Works has been winterizing the damaged locations (the locations that haven’t already been fixed) in an attempt to ensure that no additional damage occurs to those sites this winter. Additionally, Public Works has been clearing culverts, mowing and clearing brush in an attempt to reduce flooding potential.
They are encouraging the community to call them at 454-2160 if you know of any culverts that need inspection or repair or brush that needs to be cleared. Additionally, Public Works is also asking that residents rake (if it’s safe) and clean storm drains to help prevent flooding. This simple task can significantly improve drainage. Road hazards can always be reported via the 24-hour Public Works dispatch number at 477-3999 (option 1) or via 911.
If you believe that a tree has the potential to impact a power line PG&E is offering to have their arborists inspect trees and perform maintenance if needed. You can call them at 1-800-743-5000. Residents can also sign up for mobile alerts regarding power outages directly from their website.
Our local 911 center suggests residents sign up for mobile alerts (called Code Red) from their website www.scr911.org. These alerts will be used for evacuations, boil-water notices and other critical information.
What can you do to prepare your home or business?
According to FEMA and the Red Cross, here are some tips:
- Clear drains, rain gutters and downspouts of debris
- If you have drainage issues around your home consider having them inspected and addressed
- Inspect your roof for leaks
- Get flood insurance. If you already have it, check your policy to make sure you have enough coverage
- Make copies of all your important documents and make sure the originals are stored safely somewhere outside of your home
- Take photos of your possessions (furniture, collectibles, electronics) in case you need them for an insurance claim
- Build an emergency kit with water, non-perishable food, flashlight, batteries, radio, and baby items and medicines (if needed) to last a few days
- Keep your pets indoors if possible during heavy rain events
- Have a plan that your family is familiar with — in case you are unable to get home due to road hazards or need to shelter in place for multiple days ensure that your family knows how to communicate and possibly a back up location for meeting or lodging.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to call me at 454-2200 if I can be of any help to you.