Flood Preparedness

Localized floods are typical after heavy periods of sustained rain. If you live in a low-lying area, near a creek, or floodplain you are likely aware of this danger.  Yet in San Luis Obispo County we also have the possibility of flooding after a levee break or dam failure.  Preparation is much the same for any type of flooding you are at risk for. 

Know the terminology

When a FLOOD ADVISORY is issued...

A Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

  • Stay abreast of current weather informaiton and tune in to local radio and television stations for updated information
  • Consider thinking about what you'd need to do if you needed to evacuate

When a FLOOD WATCH is issued...

A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.

  • Move valuable household possessions to the upper floors of your home
  • Fill your car's gas tank in the event an Evacuation Order is issued

When a FLOOD WARNING is issued...

A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.

  • Tune in to local radio and television stations for important emergency information
  • When told to evacuate, do so as quickly as possible

When a FLASH FLOOD WARNING is issued...

A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.

  • If you believe flash flooding has begun, evacuate immediately as you may only have seconds to escape
  • Move to higher ground and away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.
  • If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground

Prepare Yourself and Your Family

Before a flood

  • Determine whether you live in a flood zone. Search your address to find out on the FEMA Flood Map Service Center website.
  • Find out if you have flood insurance. or 
  • Avoid building in a floodplain unless you will be elevating your home.
  • Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.

If you suspect a flood

  • Move furniture and valuables to higher floors in your home.
  • Turn on the local radio or TV station for up to date news.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Grab your disaster supply kit, pets, and valuables.

 As you are evacuating

  • Do not drive through water of unknown depth. 1 foot of water can float a vehicle.
  • Do not drive through rushing water. 2 feet of water can wash away even large trucks and SUVs.
  • Avoid downed power lines.
  • Do not drive around barricades. Roads or bridges may be washed out.

Dam/Levee Failure

  • Determine whether you live downstream from a dam or in the inundation area for a levee break.
  • Identify and know your evacuation routes.
  • Find out how you will be notified, should a failure or break occur.
  • Follow Flood Safety Tips

Most homeowner's insurance policies DO NOT offer protection against flood losses. For information about flood insurance, call your local insurance agent, or call the National Flood Insurance Program at (888) CALL-FLOOD. 

San Luis Obispo County Sandbag Resources List