- Yard Clean-up: Make a general inspection of your entire yard area for dead trees or dead limbs, yard debris, outdoor furniture, or other objects that could be blown by storm winds. An afternoon spent tidying up the yard and either storing furniture and other loose items indoors or securing them can prevent a frantic scramble to collect items that have landed on your roof or in your neighbors’ yards.
- Drains and Gutters: Make sure all drains and gutters are cleared of debris and functioning properly before the storm season. If buildings do not have gutters and drains, consider having them installed. Storm water runoff from impermeable surfaces (e.g., roofs, driveways, and patios) should be directed into a collection system to avoid soil saturation.
- Roofs: Inspect your roof, or hire a roofing contractor, to check for loose tiles, holes, or other signs of trouble.
- Retaining Walls: Visually inspect all retaining wall drains, surface drains, culverts, ditches, etc. for obstructions or other signs of malfunction, before the storm season, and after every storm event.
- Slopes: Visually inspect all sloped areas for signs of gullying, surface cracks, slumping etc. Also inspect patios, retaining walls, garden walls, etc. for signs of cracking or rotation. Such signs might be indications of slope movement and if you notice any problems, it would be prudent to have the site inspected by a geotechnical engineer.
- Bare Ground: Make sure your yard does not have large bare areas which could be sources for mudflows during a storm event. The fall is a good time to put down mulch and establish many native plants; it may be possible to vegetate these bare areas before the storm season.
- Storm Drains: Visually inspect nearby storm drains, before the storm season and after every rain; if the storm drains are obstructed, clear the material from the drain or notify the Department of Public Works or public agency responsible for drain maintenance.
- Follow-up and Other Concerns: If, after taking prudent steps to prepare your property for winter storms, you still have some concerns about slope stability, flooding, mudflows, etc., consider stockpiling sandbags and plastic sheeting. The sandbags can be stacked to form a barrier to keep water from flooding low areas. Plastic sheeting and visqueen can be placed on slopes and secured with sand bags to prevent water from eroding the soil.
BEFORE A FLOOD...
Even if you’ve never experienced a flood, you ought to know what to do if flood waters threaten you, your family, and your community. The following tips from the National Flood Insurance Program are given as suggested guidelines. If you find yourself in a flood situation and do not know what to do, check with your local emergency managers.Steps To Take Today
Make an itemized list of personal property, including furnishings, clothing, and valuables. Photographs of your home – inside and out – are helpful. These will assist your insurance adjuster in settling claims and will help prove uninsured losses, which are tax deductible.
- LEARN THE SAFEST ROUTE FROM YOUR HOME or place of business to high, safe ground if you should have to evacuate in a hurry.
- KEEP A PORTABLE RADIO, emergency cooking equipment, food supply, and flashlights in working order, and keep extra batteries on hand.
- BUY FLOOD INSURANCE. You should contact your property/casualty agent or company about flood insurance, which is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program. Effective March 1, 1995, there is a 30-day waiting period (with two exceptions) for this policy to become effective, so don’t wait until a flood is coming to apply.
- KEEP YOUR INSURANCE POLICIES and a list of personal property in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box. Know the name, phone number, an location of the agent(s) who issued your policy.
- PERSONS WHO LIVE IN FREQUENTLY FLOODED AREAS should keep on hand materials such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber which can be used to protect property. (Remember, sandbags should not be stacked directly against the outer walls of a building, since, when wet, the bags may create added pressure on the foundation.)
- IF YOU ARE A PARENT:
- Know your local emergency phone numbers.
- Know the emergency plans for your children’s school.
- Prepare an evacuation plan for your family.
- Know ahead of time where emergency evacuation centers will be located.
- Keep a supply of sand bags handy. By filling them with either sand or soil, you can direct moving water away from your property.
- Make sure your children know their school’s and family’s emergency plans.
Safety is the most important consideration. Since floodwaters can rise very rapidly, you should be prepared to evacuate before the water level reaches your property. Keep the following in mind:
- Have a Battery-Powered radio tuned to a local station and follow emergency instructions.
- Be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
- Stay away from all flood control facilities.
- Be extremely cautious when driving. Do not attempt to drive through moving water. Follow all emergency traffic instructions.
- IF YOU ARE CAUGHT IN YOUR HOME by rising waters, move to the second floor and, if necessary, to the roof. Take warm clothing, a flashlight, and a portable radio with you. Then wait for help . . . don’t try to swim to safety. Rescue teams will be looking for you.
- IF, AND ONLY IF, TIME PERMITS … there are several precautionary steps that can be taken:
- TURN OFF ALL UTILITIES at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation is likely. Do not touch any electrical equipment unless it is in a dry are and you are standing on a piece of dry wood while wearing rubber gloves and rubber-soled boots or shoes.
- MOVE VALUABLE PAPERS, furs, jewelry, clothing, and other contents to upper floors or higher elevations.
- FILL BATHTUBS, SINKS, AND JUGS WITH CLEAN WATER in case regular supplies are contaminated. You can sanitize these items by first rinsing with bleach.
- BOARD UP WINDOWS or protect them with storm shutters.
- BRING OUTDOOR POSSESSIONS INSIDE THE HOUSE or tie them down securely. This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, tools, signs, and other movable objects that might be swept away or hurled about.
- WHEN OUTSIDE THE HOUSE, REMEMBER...FLOODS ARE DECEPTIVE. Avoid flooded roads, and don’t attempt to walk through floodwaters.
- IF IT IS SAFE TO EVACUATE BY CAR, you should consider the following:
- STOCK THE CAR WITH NONPERISHABLE FOODS (like canned goods), a plastic container of water, blankets, first aid kit, flashlights, dry clothing, and any special medication needed by your family.
- KEEP THE GAS TANK AT LEAST HALF FULL since gasoline pumps will not be working if the electricity is cut off.
- DO NOT DRIVE WHERE THE WATER IS OVER THE ROADS. Parts of the road may already be washed out.
- IF YOUR CAR STALLS IN A FLOODED AREA, abandon it as soon as possible. Floodwaters can rise rapidly and sweep a car (and its occupants) away. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.
If your home, apartment, or business has suffered flood damage, immediately call the agent or company who handles your flood insurance policy. The agent will then submit a loss form to the National Flood Insurance Program. An adjuster will be assigned to inspect your property as soon as possible.
- PRIOR TO ENTERING A BUILDING, check for structural damage. Make sure it is not in danger of collapsing. Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or tank. If you smell gas, call your utility company immediately.
- UPON ENTERING THE BUILDING, do not use an open flame as a source of light since gas may still be trapped inside – use a battery-operated flashlight.
- WATCH FOR DOWNED ELECTRICAL WIRES. Make certain that the main power switch is turned off. Do not turn on any lights or appliances until an electrician has checked the system for short circuits.
- COVER BROKEN WINDOWS and holes in the roof or walls to prevent further weather damage.
- PROCEED WITH IMMEDIATE CLEAN-UP MEASURES to prevent any health hazards. Perishable items pose a health problem and should be listed and photographed before discarding. Throw out fresh food and medicines that have come in contact with flood waters.
- WATER FOR DRINKING AND FOOD PREPARATION should be used only if the public water system has been declared safe. In an emergency, water may be obtained by draining a hot water tank or melting ice cubes.
- TAKE PICTURES OF THE DAMAGE TO YOUR BUILDING AND CONTENTS. Refrigerators, sofas and other hard goods should be hosed off and kept for the adjuster’s inspection. Use a household cleanser to clean items to be kept. Any partially damaged items should be dried and aired; the adjuster will make recommendations as to repair or disposal.
- TAKE ALL WOODEN FURNITURE OUTDOORS TO DRY, but keep it out of direct sunlight to prevent warping. A garage or carport is a good place for drying. Remove drawers and other moving parts as soon as possible, but do not pry open swollen drawers from the front. Instead, remove the backing and push the drawers out.
- SHOVEL OUT MUD WHILE IT IS STILL MOIST to give walls and floors a chance to dry. Once plastered walls have dried, brush off loose dirt. Wash with household cleanser and rinse with clean water; always start at the bottom and work up. Ceilings are done last. Special attention must also be paid to cleaning out heating ducts and plumbing systems.
- MILDEW CAN BE REMOVED FROM DRY WOOD with a solution of 1 cup liquid chlorine bleach, in 1 gallon of water.
- CLEAN METAL AT ONCE then wipe with a kerosene-soaked cloth. A light coat of oil will prevent iron from rusting. Scour all utensils, and, if necessary, use fine steel wool on unpolished surfaces. Aluminum may be brightened by scrubbing with a solution of vinegar, cream of tartar, and hot water.
- QUICKLY SEPARATE ALL LAUNDRY ITEMS to avoid running colors. Clothing or household fabrics should be allowed to dry (slowly, away from direct heat) before brushing off loose dirt. If you cannot get a professional cleaner, rinse the items in lukewarm water to remove lodged soil. Then wash with mild detergent; rinse and dry in sunlight.
- FLOODED BASEMENTS SHOULD BE DRAINED and cleaned carefully. Structural damage will occur if water is pumped out too quickly. After the floodwaters around your property have subsided, begin draining the basement in stages, about one-third of the water volume each day.
- Until the late 1960s, flood insurance was practically unavailable to home and business owners. Therefore, Congress voted in 1968 to create the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This Federal program provides flood insurance at reasonable cost in exchange for the careful management of flood-prone areas by local communities.
- Today, you can insure almost any enclosed building and its contents against flood loss, as long as your community is participating in the NFIP.
- Remember, most standard homeowner’s policies do not cover flood loss. For more details on flood insurance protection, call your agent or company today.
- Make it your policy to protect your family against devastating flood losses.
Landslides occur in every state and U.S. territory. The Pacific Coastal Ranges have experienced severe landslide problems. Any area composed of very weak or fractured materials resting on a steep slope can and will likely experience landslides. Although the physical cause of many landslides can’t be removed, geologic investigations, good engineering practices, and effective enforcement of land-use management regulations can reduce landslide hazards. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists continue to produce landslide susceptibility maps for many areas in the United States. In every state, USGS scientists monitor stream flows, noting changes in sediment load carried by rivers and streams that may result from landslides. Hydrologists with expertise in debris and mud flows are studying these hazards in volcanic regions. (Information provided by USGS)
WHAT IS A LANDSLIDE?
The term landslide includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rock falls, deep failure of slopes, and shallow debris flows. Although gravity acting on an oversteepened slope is the primary reason for a landslide, there are other contributing factors including the following:
- Erosion by rivers, glaciers, or ocean waves create over-steepened slopes
- Rock and soil slopes are weakened through saturation by snowmelt or heavy rains
- Earthquakes create stresses that make weak slopes fail
- Earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 and greater have been known to trigger landslides
- Volcanic eruptions produce loose ash deposits, heavy rain, and debris flows
- Excess weight from accumulation of rain or snow, stockpiling of rock or ore, from waste piles, or from man-made structures may stress weak slopes to failure and other structures
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention – http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/landslides.asp
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – http://www.noaa.gov
- National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) – http://www.floodsmart.gov
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – http://www.fema.gov
- U.S. Forest Service – http://www.fs.fed.us
- U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – http://www.usgs.gov
- U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Debris Flow Maps – http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2003/ofr-03-475/
- Department of Conservation – http://www.conservation.ca.gov
- Chief Executive Office, Office of Emergency Management – http://lacoa.org
- Department of Public Works – http://dpw.lacounty.gov
- Department of Public Works Coordinated Agency Recovery Effort (CARE) http://www.dpw.lacounty.gov/care/
- Fire Department – http://fire.lacounty.gov
- Sheriff’s Department – http://sheriff.lacounty.gov Non Government Organizations:
- American Red Cross – http://www.redcross.org
- Geological Society of America – http://geology.com
- National Landslide Hazards Mitigation Strategy – http://pubs.usgs.gov