Are you flood-ready? Climate change has made extreme weather the new normal, and as the rainy season approaches, Valley Water encourages that you take some time to make sure you are ready in case of a flood. It’s important to remember that floods can happen anytime it rains.
While Valley Water’s projects have improved flood protection for more than 100,000 homes, businesses and properties, parts of Santa Clara County are susceptible to flooding every year.
It’s important to plan ahead in the event of a flood or any other emergency. Follow these Get Flood Ready tips to keep your family, home, and business safe and prepared BEFORE an emergency.
Develop an emergency plan
An essential 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 ensure everyone knows a safe route to higher ground in the event of flooding. Identify emergency contacts in and out of town and a caretaker for individuals with special needs and pets. Write these details down and share a copy with everyone.
Put your 3-day emergency kit together
After designing your plan, create 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. Please visit ready.gov/kit for more details.
Download disaster emergency apps
Sign up for Santa Clara County’s official emergency alert and warning system, AlertSCC. Use the information provided by AlertSCC in addition to local, state, and federal alert and warning systems to get the most up-to-date information on emergencies and disasters happening in your area. Monitor television, radio, and county and city websites for important announcements. Another helpful tool is the American Red Cross Emergency Alerts, an all-hazards app allowing you to receive and monitor flood alerts based on location.
Know your flood risk
You don’t have to live next door to a creek to be impacted by flooding. 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 determine whether your property is in or out of a floodplain. Your floodplain manager will have information about additional problems not shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), such as flood depth data, special flood-related hazards, historical flood information and natural floodplain function areas. Contact Valley Water’s Community Projects Review for additional assistance at 408-630-2650.
Get flood insurance ahead of time
If you do live in a FEMA-designated flood zone, you must purchase flood insurance if you have a federally insured mortgage. Renter’s insurance is also available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). To find a local agent, visit FloodSmart.gov or call the NFIP help center at 1-800-427-4661.Even if you already have a policy, homeowner's and renter’s insurance policies don’t cover damage from natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods.
Protect your home from flood threats
Valley Water offers free, filled sandbags for residents of Santa Clara County. Loose sand and empty bags for self-filling are also available at various locations; make sure to bring a shovel, just in case.
Keep debris and trash out of our streams
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; it affects the water quality, creek habitat and can cause blockages, increasing flood risks. Report blockages like wood or debris dumping in creeks to the Valley Water Watersheds Operations & Maintenance hotline at 408-630-2378. Report pollution in a creek, pond or reservoir, call 1-888-510-5151. You can also report these issues through Access Valley Water.
Understand shallow flooding risks - don't drive through standing water
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. Never drive around the barriers blocking a flooded road. Understand shallow water flooding risks—don’t drive or walk through standing water. Floodwaters can also be contaminated with oil, gasoline, or raw sewage and hide downed power lines that may have electrically charged the water. Never allow children to play in floodwaters.
Build responsibly in floodplains
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 flood 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 property. Contact your local floodplain manager for more information.
Remember, we all need to prepare for floods. Be aware. Be prepared. Take action.
For additional flood information, visit valleywater.org/floodready.