Floods and the El Nino Condition

The 1995 Winter Storms serve as a vivid reminder that Laguna Beach can be hit with storms sufficient to result in local flooding.

Floods are the most common widespread of all natural hazards. In Southern California flooding is usually associated with high intensity winter storms, which may begin as early as November.

In the case of Laguna Beach, flooding usually means fast-moving water in Laguna and Aliso Canyons as runoff from upstream development moves to the Pacific Ocean.

In addition to the hazards normally associated with storms and floods are the residual effects of water-saturated hillsides giving way as landslides.

What to do before a Flood

  1. Learn the elevation level of your property. This will help you know how your property will be affected when flood levels are forecasted.
  2. Be prepared to evacuate. See the Evacuation chapter.
  3. Talk with your family about flooding. Plan a place to meet your family in case you are separated and cannot return home. Choose an out-of-state contact for everyone to call to say they are Okay.
  4. Determine any special needs your neighbors might have.
  5. Assemble a disaster supplies kit. Include a battery-operated radio, flashlights and extra batteries, first aid supplies, sleeping supplied and clothing. Keep a stock of food and extra drinking water. For more information, see Emergency Supplies.
  6. Consult with your utility providers and learn how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves. Know where gas pilots are located and how the heating system works.
  7. Consider purchasing flood insurance. Flood losses are not covered under homeowners' insurance policies. Flood insurance is available from the Nation Flood Insurance Program. Flood Insurance is available whether the building is in or out of the identified flood-prone area.
  8. Make a record of your personal property. Take photographs of or videotape your belongings and store them in a safe place.
  9. Keep insurance policies, deeds and property records in a safe place away from your home.

What to do during Heavy Rains

  • If there is any possibility of a flood occurring, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Listen to your radio or television for information.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood suddenly.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. See Evacuation Chapter. Secure your home. Move essential items to the upper floors of your house.
  • Fill the bathtub with water in case water becomes contaminated or services cut off. Sterilize bathtubs first.
  • Stay away from flood waters.
  • Do not walk in moving waters. Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you must walk in a flooded area, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If flood waters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground, if you can do so safely. You and your vehicle can be quickly swept away as flood waters rise.

What to do after a Flood

  • Stay away from flood waters. The water may be contaminated with gasoline, oil or raw sewage.
  • Stay away from moving water. Moving water only from six inches deep can sweep you off your feet.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the utility company.
  • Continue listening to a battery-powered radio for information about where to get assistance for housing, clothing or food. Outreach programs are often available.
  • Consider your family's health and safety needs. Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water if you come in contact with flood waters. Throw away food that has come in contact with flood waters. Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
  • Contact your insurance agent. If your policy covers your situation, an adjuster will be assigned to visit your home. To prepare:
    • Take photos of or videotape your belongings and your home.
    • Separate damaged and undamaged belongings
    • Locate your financial records
    • Keep detailed records of cleanup costs