El Niño preparedness: Free sand, sandbags Saturday at Community Center

December 30, 2015
Santa Paula News

With El Niño projected to start as early as January it’s time to be prepared for any water related mishaps you know could occur on your property.

And one of the best ways to prepare is to have sandbags placed in strategic areas before the rain comes, an effort the city will help you with Saturday when free sand and bags are available for residents only.

According to Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez, free bags and sand will be available January 2 at the Community Center (corner of West Main Street and Steckel Drive) from 8 a.m. to noon.

“You’ll be limited to 10 bags per vehicle with proof of Santa Paula residency and you’ll have to bag them yourself,” said Yanez.

“We’ll supply the shovels to use, the sand is free, the bags are free so come and do it…”

The coming El Niño is projected to perhaps be the worse ever recorded, the forecast already surpassing the El Niño of the late-1980s and mid-1990s. An El Niño weather event does not mean that there is a single onslaught of heavy rain but a series of storms that keep coming creating water runoff, debris flows and flooding. With California in the fourth year of a serious drought the potential complications from an El Niño are heightened due to dry, rock-hard land that initially will reject too much moisture and then shed topsoil.

If an emergency situation arises, “Obviously we’ll have sand and bags available, as soon as we know something is coming through we’ll set up as normal at Fire Station One,” on South 10th Street.

The sand and bags available Saturday said Yanez, “Are just to give the community a little jump start to prepare…if people know they have a problem on their property they should work to prevent damage and not wait until they have damage,” from flooding.

Yanez said more sand and bags could be available again later in the month: “I hope to do something again in January, asked Recology to do sand and sandbags instead of compost at the next drop-off event and we’re still on that as a possibility. If not the city will still do something later in the month.”

Public Works has been working to prepare for the winter El Niño weather: “Our staff has been out there cleaning storm drains, making sure all our problem areas are cleared…staff is really doing a good job preparing for a large weather event.”

Yanez said people should be prepared at all times no matter what the anticipated emergency is.

“It’s not only the forecasted rain storms…we could lose our power under other circumstances such as an earthquake, whatever. People should have emergency kits in their homes and in their cars with plenty of food, water and other necessities.

“You never know when the power might go out and you need access to a flashlight and a radio,” said Yanez, “so be prepared for an emergency, any emergency.”

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