Tag Archives: flood

  • California Rainstorms Bring Flooding, Mudslides

    California Rainstorms Bring Flooding, Mudslides

    It’s been a tough water year for California. We’ve talked about the drought pretty extensively here on the blog, as well as some surprising effects it has had, like increasing rattlesnake populations in residential areas—in addition to the expected effects, like increasing food costs, more frequent and damaging wildfires (see here and here), and skyrocketing prices at water auctions.

    California started getting much-needed water last week, but it’s coming in a series of downpours that have flooded streets, caused mudslides that overtook homes and stranded motorists on the Pacific Coast Highway (a portion of the PCH is even shut down completely for 3-4 weeks because of the damage), and temporarily cut power to around 100,000 customers in the Bay Area. There was even a small tornado in south L.A. that blew the roof off one home.

    Just this month (1st-15th) it has rained 9.14 inches in San Francisco—compared to 2.08 inches that fell in almost six months last year (July 1 to Dec 15th). The ground just can’t absorb the water at the rate it’s falling, which leads to the mudslides and severe flooding that happened this week. Evacuations have taken place in several Southern California communities, and more will happen if the rain continues at these rates.

    A heavy storm is expected to come into Southern California Tuesday afternoon, leading to concern over more possible mudslides and flood damage. Northern California can expect rain and snow until Wednesday.

    Many California residents are unprepared for power outages, evacuations, and flooding—while others are ready, having prepared in advance for just these types of emergencies, with survival kits, family evacuation plans, and emergency gear they can rely on during the storms.

    Instagram user @annettecardwell posted this photo on December 10th with the caption “House is sand bagged, hatches are battened, fireplace is roaring. Ready for #hellastorm”



    House is sand bagged, hatches are battened, fireplace is roaring. Ready for #hellastorm


    A photo posted by Annette Cardwell (@annettecardwell) on

    Google brought their sense of humor—and a raft—along for the ride… because you never know.

    Twitter user @dwnydaisy seemed all set to go the day the storms hit.

    Unfortunately, there were also a lot of messages like this one from Twitter user @krisellelaran, who thinks Californians aren’t well prepared.

    Some California residents even had to evacuate because the storm downed power lines onto their homes.

    Being prepared doesn't always mean you get to stay home, or that there isn't damage to your property, but it does mean there’s less to worry about in a crisis.

    To prepare for heavy storms that cause power outages and evacuations:

    • Get an emergency kit for everyone in your household.
    • Buy or build a power outage kit for your home—you’ll appreciate having it during short outages where you get to stay home, as well as serious storms that require evacuation.
    • Develop a household or family emergency and evacuation plan.
    • Build up a supply of food storage and water storage you can rely on in long-term emergencies as well as short-term crises that last just a few days or weeks.
    • Research and develop important skills you can rely on for communication or survival.

    Prepare in advance, and you'll be ready for the next #rainpocalyspe or #hellastorm that comes your way.








    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, rainstorm, Current Events, flood

  • Hurricane Sandy: One Year Later, Thousands Still Displaced

    Flooded house after heavy rain in the evening sunlight.

    “For Kathryn Fitzgerald and her young daughter, Megan, home was a modest three-bedroom house…on a tightly packed segment of Delaware Avenue two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. That was the only home that Megan had ever known, until Hurricane Sandy hit and a rank mixture of floodwater and untreated sewage rose to chest-high in the lower level of the house.

    “Since then, they have lived in rental apartments and Megan, now 9, attended an unfamiliar school in another town for a while as her mother appealed for enough aid to rebuild the life they had…

    “More than a year after one of the country’s largest-ever disaster recovery efforts began, Ms. Fitzgerald is among the more than 30,000 residents of New York and New Jersey who remain displaced by the storm, mired in a bureaucratic and financial limbo.”


    Every year, big storms capture national attention with images of wild weather and large-scale destruction. But when the skies calm and the cameramen pack up and leave town, residents are left to the long, lonely process of returning to normal. Hurricane Sandy may be fading from popular consciousness; but for the victims, fourteen months into the recovery, the disaster is ongoing.

    Kathryn Fitzgerald is just one of a handful of displaced homeowners in the American Northeast interviewed recently by the New York Times—and her story is a representative and cautionary one. Victim after victim reports the difficulty of securing funds to rebuild, whether from government aid agencies or by other means.

    While we talk a lot about the immediate, life-sustaining preparations needed to weather extreme situations, sometimes the most important emergency preparation is financial. Read the full NYT article here to see what a tangled mess of red tape is holding up these people’s efforts to rebuild their lives. Then check out the links below to learn more about financial preparation for disasters. Finally, take another look at our blog post on flood preparedness to learn more about insurance options. Whether it's another storm like Hurricane Sandy, a sudden downpour that causes flooding like that in Colorado earlier this year, or another scenario altogether, you'll be so glad you've prepared in advance.


    New York Times article originally found via Instapundit.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: financial preparedness, flood preparedness, flood, hurricanes, insurance

  • Why I Prepare: Lessons Learned from the Colorado Floods Part 3

    House in 2013 Colorado Flood

    In light of the recent flooding in Colorado and all the damage that has occurred as a result, we want to share a series of posts from one Colorado woman’s perspective. Opinions expressed are hers and do not necessarily reflect those of Emergency Essentials. If you lived through the recent Colorado floods and want to share your story, please email social@beprepared.com.


    The damage caused by the Colorado floods will last for many, many years.  The damage you see on TV is nothing like seeing it in person.  So many people lost everything.  Communities are gone.  Where there were once fields of corn there are now just large lakes, even a week later.  Homes are still under water; roads and bridges are just gone; and businesses are destroyed.

    The weekend of September 20th, I went to see if there was anything I could do to help.  The images that most affected me were of two farm houses and their barns still under water.  Their fields had turned into lakes.  They lost everything.

    Landfills were full of so many destroyed memories.  I saw Flood Assistance signs directing people to tents that would give them clothing, food, and assistance to help with additional relief.  It was so sad to see. But it was also exciting to see as I witnessed so many people wanting to help.  I saw entire communities working together to help each other.  People helping people they didn’t even know, and wanting nothing in return.

    As I watched these people working together to clean up the devastating effects of this storm, I was trying to think about how someone could ever prepare for an emergency of this magnitude. The flood victims needed food, warmth, and a roof over their heads. I started to think that if my family and I had been affected as badly by the storm that all the goodies we have in our bug out bags wouldn’t be enough.

    I decided to help out at the tents giving clothing and food. I listened to stories from people that had it so much worse than me. They all talked about how thankful they were.  They said, “It could have been so much worse.”

    Many organizations teach us to be prepared for emergencies, but this was big.  You need to get everyone in your community involved, not just a few people.  Everyone should know how to prepare for emergencies. It’s that old saying “It takes a village.” After the floods, I contacted my neighbors to schedule a meeting to start teaching them all how to prepare for future emergencies. We have to start somewhere.

    Note from the editor: We offer free emergency planning resources for families and neighborhoods on our Downloads page. We encourage you to create a plan as soon as possible—even a very basic plan will help—and provide you a foundation to build on. 

    Check out the rest of the series:

    Why I Prepare: Lessons from the Colorado Floods, Part 1

    Why I Prepare: Lessons from the Colorado Floods, Part 2

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Colorado flood, natural disaster, flood, emergency preparedness, emergency kit, preparedness

  • Preparing for a "Once in a Lifetime" Flood or Storm


    Throughout the past few years, storms of all strengths and sizes have swept through the United States, leaving destruction in their wake.

    In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy killed over 100 Americans during her tirade. Those who survived were forced to continue on despite the destruction of thousands of homes, and the fact that millions were without power for weeks. Even still, a year after Hurricane Sandy exploded across the East Coast, 26,000 people are without homes.  In Sept. 2013, Colorado residents were shocked when a year's worth of rain poured down in just two days, causing flooding almost 200 miles wide. With these once-in-a-century storms that seem to be growing more frequent, what should you do? The answer: prepare.

    In fact, this is a lesson that one of Emergency Essentials’ founding partners, Don Pectol, learned as a boy living in California in the 1950’s. As a survivor of both a once-in-a-century and a once-in-a-thousand-year flood, Don (along with his family) learned a powerful lesson about the importance of emergency preparedness.

    In the Lessons Learned article “I Survived a Once in a Lifetime Flood Twice,” Don shares what he took away from those two devastating events:


    "The influence this flood had on me and my family was a powerful reminder of the principle of preparedness. We knew floods could happen where we lived, but not like this! We moved to higher ground. Higher ground is not just a physical location; it is also a state of mind and a way of life. Being prepared for emergencies is ‘moving to higher ground.’"


    Hear more of Don’s story straight from Don himself in this 30 second Emergency Essentials TV Spot:

    Don provides a great reminder that if you’re prepared, you’ll feel a sense of safety and security. Your levelheadedness and preparations before the storm could make all the difference for you and your family as you’re able to rely on yourself to provide for your most basic needs.

    When widespread emergencies (such as flooding and storms) occur, it's better to be able to rely on yourself when everyone else is relying on governments and relief agencies (who can take days—even weeks—to get set up). During Hurricane Sandy and the Colorado floods, relief resources were stretched thin because of the huge numbers of people relying on these agencies.  In widespread or large-scale emergencies, relief resources can run out quickly, leaving citizens on their own.

    We hope the possibility of these once-in-a-century storms gives you more incentive to start your preparations now, even if disasters haven’t increased in your area quite yet.

    For help getting prepared, check out the resources below.

    -          Start with a good emergency kit

    -          Checkout our emergency survival gear

    -          Look at emergency food and food storage options

    Learn how to prepare for a flood or hurricane.

    Read more about disaster preparedness on our Read First page, our blog, and our Insight Articles.











    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: flood preparedness, flood, emergency preparedness, video, storm

  • Lessons Learned, Volume 2: Don Pectol Survived a Once-in-a-lifetime Flood. Twice.

    Once in a Hundred Years 

    In 1955, I was 6 years old and lived in the small Northern California town of Blue Lake. Our family lived next to a creek—the type of creek that completely dried up in the summer. It was about a mile away from the Mad River. In December of 1955 we had a major flood in Northern California. It was later called a one-in-a-100-years flood by California’s Governor. I remember my father putting me on his shoulders and walking over to the bank of the creek. As we looked at the creek we realized that it was ready to go over the bank to our home—which it did the next day. My father then took me—still on his shoulders— a short distance away to my grandparents’ house, which was about 10 feet higher in elevation than ours. There my grandparents fixed a meal for my family, on a wood stove, by the light of what they called a coal oil lamp. I don’t remember what was served, but I remember it being one of the best-tasting meals I’ve ever had. At that time I felt a sense of security—a feeling that in the midst of something that was really terrifying, I would be okay. It is an experience that I will never forget.


    Once in a Thousand Years 

    Another flood came nine years to the month later—Christmas of 1964. Northern California, along with Oregon and Washington, got hit with a flood that Governor Edmond G. Brown of California said could “happen only once in 1,000 years,” and it was later often referred to as the Thousand Year Flood.

    It was significant how these storms came about:

    "They resulted from meteorological conditions similar to those of the December 1955 floods. An arctic air mass moved into northern California on December 14, 1964, and precipitation on December 18-20 produced large quantities of snow. Beginning on December 20, a storm track 500 miles wide extended from Hawaii to Oregon and produced unprecedented rainfall on northern California and melted much of the snow from the previous storms. In the Mattole River basin, just south of the Eel River, nearly 50 inches of rain was reported during December 19-23, 1964 with 15 inches observed in 24 hours. In most of the coastal mountains and many locations in the northern Sierra Nevada, the December 19-23 rainfalls totaled 20-25 inches." [1]

    And the resulting damage was extensive to say the least:

    "Many communities in Humboldt county suffered massive power outages and were left isolated (or completely cutoff from the rest of the state for a period), including the region's larger populated areas around Humboldt Bay, such as Eureka and [my home], Arcata, despite the fact that those cities were located on higher ground and not in the path of raging rivers. Unfortunate riverside communities like Klamath, Orleans, Myers Flat, Weott, South Fork, Shively, Pepperwood, Stafford, and Ti-Bar were all completely destroyed by flood waters, some of which were never rebuilt and none regained their former status. Metropolitan, Rio Dell, and Scotia were significantly damaged. Crescent City, still recovering from the tsunami created by the 1964 Alaska earthquake only nine months earlier, also suffered from the floods.

    Over 22 inches of rain fell on the Eel River basin in a span of two days. By December 23, 752,000 cubic feet per second of water rushed down the Eel River at Scotia (still upstream from the confluence of the Van Duzen River), 200,000 cubic feet per second more than the 1955 flood, and more than the average discharge of the entire Mississippi River basin. Just under 200,000 cubic feet per second of water flowed down the South Fork Eel River alone, causing severe damage along its entire length. Every single stream gage on the Eel River was destroyed. The flood crest at Miranda was 46 feet. Signs were later placed on top of tall poles to mark the unusual height of the water.

    The flood killed 19 people, heavily damaged or completely devastated at least 10 towns, destroyed all or portions of more than 20 major highway and county bridges, carried away millions of board feet of lumber and logs from mill sites, devastated thousands of acres of agricultural land, killed 4,000 head of livestock, and caused $100 million in damage in Humboldt County, California alone." [2]

    By this time our family had moved from our home in Blue Lake (the one next to a creek) to a safer location in Arcata, California, which was further away from the river. Although we still experienced power outages and were cut off from all normal benefits of the transportations system (we couldn’t evacuate, no supplies could be brought in on trucks), we had made preparations and were able to weather the storm.  But I will never forget going in a Safeway supermarket and seeing the shelves completely bare. There were two people fighting—arguing—over a small can of mushrooms. I also remember seeing an entire house float down a swollen, muddy river. The influence this flood had on me and my family was a powerful reminder of the principle of preparedness. We knew floods could happen where we lived, but not like this! We moved to higher ground. Higher ground is not just a physical location, it is also a state of mind and a way of life. Being prepared for emergencies is “moving to higher ground.” It means thinking of those you love and “putting them on your shoulders” like my father did with me in 1955.

    Symbolically, when you prepare your family you are putting them on your shoulders. Over the years my parents tried to regularly update their supplies and succeeded in passing this wise principle on to me and my siblings. I am grateful they did.

    --Don Pectol

    Thanks for sharing your story and insights, Don. There are several important lessons here; these ones in particular stood out to us:

    • Involve your children (if you have any) in your preparedness efforts, even if they are too young to understand the concept of a disaster. If a disaster strikes, they'll certainly remember feeling safe and protected if you're prepared, just like Don remembers.
    • The importance of food storage and water storageWatching those two customers fight over a can of mushrooms is something Don will never forget, and it's something we hope you don't ever experience first-hand!
    • Knowing the possibility for certain natural disasters in the area where you live. These flood were created by out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, but after the first flood, Don's family moved to higher ground and weren't affected as much by the second, more severe flood.

    Learn how to prepare for a flood.

    Learn about emergency preparedness in your state.



    [1] http:// www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/hearings/usbr_dwr/docs/exhibits/cspa2b.pdf. Accessed March 8, 2013.

    [2] "Christmas Flood of 1964." Wikipedia.org. Retrieved March 8, 2013. (Author's Note: See especially footnote #7: California Department of Water Resources (January 1956). Flood!. Sacramento, California: California Department of Water Resources. OCLC 8135568.)

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: flood preparedness, flood, Lessons Learned, emergency preparedness