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November 6, 2012 > Winter is on its way... are you prepared?

Winter is on its way... are you prepared?

By Richard P. Santos

The temperature outside is cooling, the trees are changing color and we've already been hit with our first storm. Even if we have another dry year, as some predictions indicate, just a few big storms could cause flooding in our creeks and streams. So now is the perfect time to start thinking about flood protection.

To help you get prepared, the district will be launching its award winning Charles "Chicken" Little campaign this month. This goal of this annual flood awareness campaign is to educate the community on the risk of flooding and how best to protect their homes or businesses, by providing useful tips to help people stay safe before, during and after a flood.

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 isn't 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 "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home. And it's always good to have a stockpile of emergency building materials on hand, such as plywood, plastic sheeting and sandbags.

And here are some more things you can do to prepare:
* 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 car's gas tank full, so you won't be stranded in a potential flood.
* Make emergency kits for your home and car with supplies such as a flashlight, batteries, water and non-perishable food.
* 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 it's not required by your mortgage lender, it's still a good idea to protect your property and belongings.

The good news is you're not alone when it comes to protecting your property from flooding. The Santa Clara Valley Water District has numerous projects and programs designed to protect county residents from flooding.

Each year between July and October, district staff works hard to clear streams of debris and sediment so waterways will be unimpeded when winter storms hit. This season, 18 projects were completed, removing a total of 51,571 cubic yards of sediment and repairing 1,086 linear feet of banks or levees in preparation of the coming winter storms.

To learn more about how to stay safe before, during and after a flood or what the water district is does throughout the year to prepare, visit

As always, I am available for questions or comments as your District 3 representative. Feel free to contact me at (408) 234-7707.

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