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November 26, 2013 > Richard Santos Water Column: Are you storm ready?

Richard Santos Water Column: Are you storm ready?

By Richard P. Santos

The National Weather Service is predicting neither an El Nio nor a La Nia year, which has been dubbed ÒLa Nada.Ó We could see above, below or normal rainfall this winter. This means the weather forecast is as unpredictable as ever, so we need to be prepared for anything.

As your local flood protection agency, the Santa Clara Valley Water District works all year to prepare for winter storms. Crews have removed sediment in several creeks to maintain their capacity to carry storm water. They have removed debris and blockages that had accumulated over the year, and they completed several bank stabilization projects.

In 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration certified the water district as StormReady after an extensive review of the DistrictÕs weather event communications and emergency planning capabilities. We are the only water district in the state to have this certification. This certification means that we are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe water through advanced planning, education and awareness.

But the water district only owns about one third of the creek sections in the county. And many factors can make flooding a real possibility during any storm event.

So are you ready?

There are a number of things you can do to protect your property from flooding. The simplest way to start is by checking your rain gutters and drainage system to make sure there isnÕt any debris clogging them. Another good practice is to periodically examine your property for cracks in the foundation and exterior walls, and seal them. You should also seal small openings around pipes with grout, concrete, crack filler or caulk. A licensed plumber can install Òcheck valvesÓ in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home. And itÕs good to have a stockpile of emergency building materials on hand, such as plywood, plastic sheeting and sandbags.

Other important things to think about:
* Make emergency kits for your home and car with supplies such as a flashlight, batteries, water and non-perishable food.

* Locate streams and drainage channels in your neighborhood and figure out the best route to get to high ground if necessary.

* Learn how to turn off utilities to your home.

* Be sure to keep your carÕs gas tank full, so you wonÕt be stranded in a potential flood.

* And remember, never drive in water that is a foot deep! A foot of water will float many vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pick-ups.

The smartest thing you can do to prepare for floods? Purchase flood insurance. Even if itÕs not required by your mortgage lender, itÕs still a good idea to protect your property and belongings.

The water districtÕs flood prevention and flood awareness outreach efforts also contribute to flood insurance savings by as much as 10 percent. FEMAÕs National Flood Insurance Program evaluates the flood protection efforts communities make and provides a rating. In our area, participating communities earn points based on their own flood risk reduction efforts; those points are combined with the points the District has earned, resulting in insurance premium discounts of 10 or 15 percent.

To learn more about how to stay safe before, during and after a flood or what the water district does throughout the year to prepare, visit
As always, I am available for questions or comments as your District 3 representative for the northern areas of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, Alviso, Milpitas and the North San Jose and Berryessa communities. Feel free to contact me at (408) 234-7707.

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