The Coming Deluge

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Hurricane Katrina wasn’t our first wake-up call, but it may be our last. Here in the Sacramento region, flood control issues are nothing new. But while politicians bicker over effective control measures and state legislators beg the federal government for fix-it money, those on levee patrol and flood control boards urge us all: Don’t just sit and wait for disaster to strike. And don’t depend on the government to rescue you when it does.

You love living near the river, enjoy daily walks and jogs on the trail near the water’s edge. Who wouldn’t enjoy a river trail right in your own backyard?

But sometimes when it rains, that trail disappears, swallowed by the river: sometimes slowly, other times all at once by swelling, rushing storm waters.
  
You considered the risks before you purchased. You heard about the floods of 1986 and 1997. You know there have been some close calls. Just last year, the first winter after flooding from Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, days of heavy rainfall and a rapidly melting heavy snowpack runoff had everyone in your neighborhood on alert. And not for the first time, either. But you and your neighbors survived those storms. Maybe it’s all a lot of worry over nothing.

But when the flood warning for your area is issued, and the deputy sheriff knocks on your door, instructing you to evacuate, will you know what to do? Where to go?
   
    What about your elderly parents, who live nearby?
    What about your pets?
    How much time do you have to get out and get safe?
    Time enough to protect your property?
    What do you take?
    What must you leave behind?
    Will you drive out of the area?
    What if you can’t?

Sacramento resident Carol Pottorff is all too familiar with this “what if” scenario.

Except, in her case, it actually happened. In 1986, just after she purchased her two-story home that backs up to the levee at Estates and Crondall drives in the Wilhaggin area of Sacramento, the water was just two inches from the top of the only thing that stood between her backyard fence and what was, she recalls, a raging American River.
“You could see the logs and debris tearing downstream,” Pottorff remembers. “They say that if the levees break, the water will just rip through the house. A second story wouldn’t even matter,” she shrugs.

In 1997, floodwaters swallowed the bike trail near her house but did not reach the levee. Pottorff finds that reassuring because, she says, “it was bad then, and they’ve worked on the levees since.” She says she has never once considered moving. “It’s so beautiful here. The walks we have enjoyed along the river, having the trail in your backyard—as far as I’m concerned, it’s well worth the risk.”

Her neighbors, Ken and Juanita McCreery, bought their home this past September—soon after the first anniversary of Katrina. They moved with their teenage sons from Nevada City, where they still own a home and where, Ken McCreery guesses, they would go should the river rise again.

Both the Pottorffs and the McCreerys have flood insurance.

“It doesn’t cover that much,” McCreery admits, “only about $250,000 worth of damage—and that wouldn’t come close to replacing our home. But it’s better than nothing.”

McCreery can see the levee from his home-office window, and he’s aware crews have been working on it, reinforcing the blacktop and planting trees on the land in between the river and the levee that runs just a few feet from his backyard fence.

Despite her brush with a big flood back in ’86, Pottorff says she does not have a detailed plan, a disaster kit or any idea where she’d go if there were another flood.

According to flood plain maps on the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency’s website, Pottorff and her neighbors might have only a few hours to evacuate if the levee fails. After that, the water would rise to levels that would carry an automobile, forcing these families to wait for rescue by helicopter or boat.

To say Hurricane Katrina was a wake-up call to all who live near substantial bodies of water would be an understatement.

Sure, Jeremy and his wife, Samantha (who asked that their last names be omitted), thought twice about purchasing their new Natomas home, which lies just east of one of the weakest points in the Natomas levees. But the newlyweds were looking, first and foremost, for an affordable home. Shortly after reading a series of Sacramento Bee articles on flood risks, Jeremy purchased flood insurance and did some research. He learned that, if the levee were to fail, the area could be 15 feet under water: “That would fill the home,” he points out. Jeremy’s main concern is their indoor cat. “My thought is that, if a flood watch were to be announced, I could zip over from work and get her, as I work pretty close.” Important documents are in a file cabinet he could grab, he says, but he admits he needs to go through the documents to make sure they are the right ones. “I still don’t feel 100 percent prepared,” he says.    

Jeremy and Samantha worry whenever a big storm rolls in. “Because that could be it,” he says. “What if we’re out of town, or get stuck somewhere in the middle of the day, and can’t get home?”

We, like the rest of the nation, gazed in horror at what happened in New Orleans when her levees failed—levees believed to be in bet-ter shape than ours. Most U.S. levees are in better shape than ours: Pre-Katrina, Sacramento’s risk of flooding was the greatest of any major U.S. city—including New Orleans.

We were rated as having less than 100-year protection; by comparison, New Orleans had 250-year protection, and St. Louis and Dallas had 500-year protection. (Systems that provide 100-year flood protection don’t protect a region for 100 years—a common misconception that provides residents in vulnerable areas with a false sense of security. Rather, that number represents the one chance in 100 that the flood control system—levees and dams combined—will protect against a storm beyond the capacity of that system.)

Before Katrina, our levees were in bad shape.

Many were built by farmers and settlers 150 years ago on a questionable soil base without the benefit of modern engineering.

In 1989, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency was formed to address our flood risk, and it has been working ever since to pressure local, state and federal powers to provide the kind of protection we, at the heart of the world’s fifth largest economy, need. It hasn’t been easy. Flood control became a partisan issue; respected politicians dueled for years over dam issues and battled representatives from other states for coveted federal funding to improve existing dams and levees.

Katrina changed all that. Congress provided $41.05 million for “highest priority” U.S. levee restoration and flood control projects in 2006. The funding was part of a bill sponsored by Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico to provide $2.2 billion for New Orleans restoration. In August, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer secured $13.4 million for the state, bringing to $37 million the amount of funding available in the event of an emergency. All told, there is now $78 million of federal funding for the highest flood control priorities in the Central Valley. In November, state taxpayers even kicked in, approving bond initiative 1E and Proposition 84, agreeing to pay back $4 billion for flood control projects with additional taxes.

Flood control has been a passionate issue for U.S. Rep. John Doolittle from California’s fourth congressional district; his obstinate push for a flood control dam at Auburn pitted him against his colleague, Rep. Robert Matsui, for much of his political career. Critics said the dam would destroy the land and disrupt recreational use of the area.

Doolittle believes area residents and politicians alike are in a state of denial when it comes to our flood risk. “City councils have been swept out of office because of floods,” Doolittle says, adding that “the evasiveness [you’re] seeing about evacuation plans and the flood protection we have versus the flood protection we need is . . . a result of posturing politicians. People want to talk about it enough to say they tried to get funding, but we don’t want to talk about it [to the extent that] it may scare [away] business [investment].” What we need, says Doolittle, is to “control the rivers.” What we need, he says, is 500-year flood protection.

“Sacramento faces up to a 500-year flood event,” he notes. “Why are we putting all our eggs in a basket of 200-year flood protection? You hear all this talk of improvement of the levees to provide 200-year flood protection. Why?”

Doolittle likens 200-year flood protection to equipping automobiles with seat belts that protect passengers at speeds up to 30 miles per hour “when most cars travel at speeds of 40, 50, 60 miles per hour,” he says. It’s why talk of an Auburn Dam, which could provide 500-year protection, has resurfaced.

“It’s stunning to me that the state of California and the city of Sacramento . . . aren’t riveted on achieving that level of flood protection,” Doolittle says. “The idea that we can’t afford 500-year flood protection is gross incompetence. We can’t afford not to have it,” he argues, adding that damage estimates in the event of a flood totaled $40 billion—and that figure was calculated 10 years ago. Given the growth in property values and population that have taken place since 1996, “imagine what that number would be today,” says Doolittle.

Indeed, according to estimates by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and California’s Department of Water Resources, Sacramento could not handle 500-year flood levels at the I Street Bridge in Old Sacramento. Water would rise to above 38 feet—and over the bridge. Maximum flows from a 500-year flood event along Fair Oaks Boulevard, which runs somewhat parallel to the American River through several Sacramento suburbs and into town, could reach 530,000 cubic feet per second (compared to the 134,000 cubic feet per second of 1986) and top 54 feet at the Watt Avenue bridge (which reached 47 feet in 1986 and 45 feet in 1997). According to maps available from the Department of Water Resources and SAFCA, several evacuation routes would be underwater in a matter of hours. If two or three levees failed at once—one in Natomas, one near Goethe Park and one downtown—it’s conceivable that, for whole communities, there would be no way in and no way out.

Could what happened in New Orleans actually happen here?

Dick Marshall, executive director of the California Central Valley Flood Control Association, in no way underestimates the unpredictable power of a lot of fast-flowing water—and the need for flood control in a city where two powerful rivers converge. He explains how those who built Folsom Dam in 1955 expected it wouldn’t fill to capacity for years. In 1956, he says, a biblical storm filled the reservoir. And in 1997, he recalls, water was “coming up the face of Folsom Dam” at the rate of 7 acre-feet an hour, far exceeding the maximum release rate of 115,000 cubic feet per second. “That’ll make a dam operator chew on his fingernails,” he says. But Marshall is reluctant to compare Sacramento to New Orleans. For starters, Marshall points out, we don’t have hurricanes. “In New Orleans, you had 140-mile-an-hour winds pushing 30-foot crests in the sea.” Marshall calls what happened in New Orleans a “doomsday scenario no system could have stopped.”

Marshall believes, as do others, that because Sacramento survived the 1997 floods so well, we have no real reason to anticipate chaos and catastrophe in future floods. “People don’t really drown in floods, for example,” says Marshall, adding that the drowning deaths that occurred in New Orleans “were an anomaly.” (In the 1997 floods, nine Californians were killed.)

Les Harder, deputy director for public safety with the California Department of Water Resources, doesn’t exactly agree. Harder, who was part of the National Science Foundation team sent to New Orleans to examine and evaluate the failure of the levees there, admits we don’t get hurricanes. “But we do get warm winter storms,” he argues, explaining how water that falls as rain rather than snow can rapidly melt the snowpack that serves as our area’s summer water supply. “You get too much of a good thing too fast, that’s how a flood can occur,” he says. These storms, known as “pineapple express” storms, often follow one another in a series, sending water down from the Sierra into the Central Valley too fast, too soon. “The source cause is different, but the result is the same. The levee doesn’t care where the water is coming from,” Harder warns, adding that the frequency of these pineapple express storms is increasing due to global warming.

“Sacramento could look just like New Orleans,” Harder insists. “Our deep flood plains are even deeper. Parts of Natomas’ flood plains are more than 20 feet deep.”

David Hosley, president and general manager of KVIE, is aware of this. Very aware. The public television station’s offices are located in a Natomas flood plain. If the levee breaks, Hosley explains, most of his expensive equipment, currently sitting on the first floor, would be under 15 feet of water. “We gotta move it all up to the second floor,” he acknowledges, adding this is the sort of flood preparation a lot of individuals who live and work in one of our many vulnerable flood plains haven’t yet gotten around to.

As a result of Katrina, many people here are more aware of Sacramento’s own flood risks. But most are not as aware of one potential cause of catastrophic flooding: an earthquake. A large quake could “take the levees out,” Hosley says, instantly undoing any work we might be able to finally complete on levees and dams. He agrees with Harder that, in the event of a major flood (one caused by earthquake or even numerous, simultaneous levee failures), Sacramento could look like New Orleans. If more than one levee fails, Natomas, along with Interstate 5, the Capital City Freeway and parts of Highway 99, could be under water.

And yet development in this area continues, as it does in other flood plain areas, to accommodate Sacramento’s rapid growth: Since 1997, more than 30,000 new homes have been approved and/or constructed, with more subdivisions planned, all in flood-prone areas. (An area is considered flood-prone if it has been flooded before, is less than 10 feet above sea level and is protected by 100-year levees.) “Natomas was once a marsh. It could be again. We have built homes in flood plains that are at risk. It’s stupid,” Hosley says.

Just last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency acknowledged that risk, requiring Natomas property owners with federally backed mortgages or home-equity loans to purchase flood insurance. FEMA also plans to revise its flood-risk maps to depict Natomas as a “special flood hazard area.”

SAFCA is working to shore up the Natomas levees. In March, voters will vote on a property tax assessment to restore 100-year protection to Natomas by 2010, allowing property owners to drop their flood insurance.

Harder says that, while agencies have scrambled to make significant improvements to levees, the system is still very fragile. Thirty-three sites have been repaired, but 300 more are seriously damaged, he explains.

“Just because the levee is there doesn’t mean you’re protected,” he warns. “Risk is reduced but not eliminated. The levee will only hold so much.” Harder argues that, if you choose to live in a flood plain, you must be responsible about it. Get flood insurance. Know how high the water can get. Two feet? Twenty feet? What’s your evacuation route? “Emergency preparedness is key to surviving and recovering from a flood if you live in a flood plain,” Harder says.

But finding out if you live in a flood plain isn’t that easy. Of the $40 billion allotted for in 1E, $290 million will go in part to new flood plain mapping. (The maps now in use are inaccurate.) Areas that flooded twice in 25 years—in the Plumas Lake region and in Yuba County, for example—still are not mapped, says Harder. And getting those new maps isn’t just a pretty-colored paper project: You need to commission a study and upgrade the storm models that project how rain will fill the rivers and run off the mountains, all costing the state a great deal of money and taking years to complete. As a result, current flood plain maps do not give accurate information about how vulnerable areas of Sacramento and outlying areas will flood should the levees fail.

It’s this information that local and state officials use to draw up evacuation plans.

 

Those plans, by the way, are also hard to come by.

Last year, with the help of his graduate students, Sacramento State sociology professor Kevin Wehr explored flood issues—including flood preparedness—in a research project presented as part of a three-part series in The State Hornet school newspaper. They asked city officials, including officials with city and county governments, SAFCA, the fire and police departments, even CSUS, for an evacuation plan—any evacuation plan. What they got was, in their words, “the runaround.” “[Even] the CSUS officials had no plan, assuring us that rafts were in the budget. Rafts? That’s our evacuation plan for 23,000 students,” Wehr wrote.

Eric Lamoureux, spokesman with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, insists that there are evacuation plans; local agencies, such as the American Red Cross, law enforcement and other emergency services, have them. He calls the notion of levee failure due to an earthquake “far-fetched” and is reluctant to compare anything that happened in New Orleans to anything that could happen here in Sacramento.

“In New Orleans, you had an entire city under water,” he explains. “Flooding here would not happen that way.” Lamoureux says that a more likely scenario would be gradual flooding in different areas of the city: mini-floods, if you will. “We’ve done a lot of work on the levees,” he insists. “Many areas that once had less than 100-year flood protection now have 200-year flood protection because of all the work that’s been done.”

Lamoureux is one of many who look to the way Sacramento braved the floods of ’97 as indicative of how we might fare in a future flood. “You always have those who are going to take advantage of a natural disaster, for example,” he admits, “but Northern California saw none of the violence or the looting that you saw occur in New Orleans, or even like what you saw during the Los Angeles riots back in the 1990s. Things remained under control, for the most part.”

Lamoureux also makes the point that, in the case of evacuation, those in flood plain areas wouldn’t have nearly as far to go to get to safety. “Most would probably head up to the foothills, and that’s not very far away,” he says.

Still, in areas near the levees’ weakest points, water could fill to depths of more than 2 feet in a couple of hours, making escape impossible by car. Many of the evacuation routes detailed on flood plain maps would be unusable; the American River’s flood levels at Watt Avenue could not be calculated in the event of a 200-year flood because the water running along the levees would be so swift it wouldn’t matter.

In other words, there wouldn’t even have to be too much water for the levees to give.

It could be argued that Sacramento should be on automatic “high alert” every rain season, because those in the know are. 

Gary Hester, general manager of the American River Flood Control District, supervises crews that patrol the river year-round. When the dam is releasing to capacity and/or there is any danger of a flood, men are out there every hour, he says. Hester not only works to patrol and evaluate levees; his home is protected by one. Hester lives in River Park, and he admits there are levees upstream of H Street that “don’t give the river enough room, in my opinion,” he says. “We have to keep a close eye on levees that come close to the water.” He adds that there are spots, specifically between Howe and Watt avenues, where the levee could be raised a foot or more.

While inspecting levees, Hester and flood maintenance crews check for erosion and boils: seepage from the dry side of the levee. “If the water runs clear, you can fix it. But if the water runs cloudy, it’s a boil, and it’s taking some of the levee with it,” Hester explains. “That means you’re in trouble.”

Hester agrees that previous flood experience is encouraging. “Because of all our experience with flooding, all of us in this business operate under a high degree of anxiousness, of watchfulness in high-waterness,” he says. Hester thinks that Katrina, by bringing flood issues to the forefront, was a good thing for Sacramento. “It was far more frustrating when people were not concerned about it,” he says. “I don’t see what’s going on with flood control issues as bickering. It’s gone from a partisan issue to a bipartisan issue. We’re taking steps quickly; people are supporting things that can actually get done.”

And people need to get involved, argues Lamoureux. “In any major emergency, first responders can’t meet everyone’s needs in the initial 72 hours after a disaster, no matter where you live. We all need to be first responders. You need to take care of yourself and your home. Understand the risks, know how best to protect yourself and the things and the people that you care about.”

Lamoureux recommends people train to become first responders as part of the Community Emergency Response Team program offered by local county and city sheriff’s departments and the American Red Cross. “The program provides training for individuals so they can be first responders to any likely natural disasters,” Lamoureux says, adding that such programs also offer resources for and information about evacuation and disaster recovery.

However you prepare, experts suggest all Sacramentans do exactly that, regardless of where you live. Buy flood insurance. Prepare for a flood. Have an evacuation plan. Get a disaster kit ready. Know what to do in a matter of hours—or minutes. And know what to do to return home—and eventually repair and recover.

For Tina, who lives near Goethe Park in a flood zone, this meant letting go of her nanny and putting her children in day care a mile from where she works. Tina, who asked that her last name be withheld, works downtown and worries that, in the event of a levee break, she won’t be able to get home to her children.

“Maybe it’s crazy,” she says, “but I put the kids in day care. I didn’t want to, but I was that stressed out about it. If something happens, I want to be able to get to my children. The water can take the whole house. I want my kids with me.”

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Before, During and After the Flood

Do you live in a flood plain or a high-risk flood area? According to the American Red Cross, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and FloodSmart.gov, here’s what you need to do before, during and after a major flood.

Before The Flood:
[  ]  Assemble the following supplies and store them at work, at home and in the car, ready to go:
    • First-aid kit and medications
    • Food (packaged, dried, canned, plus food for special diets and pets)
    • Nonelectric can opener
    • Batteries stored in watertight plastic bags
    • Flashlights
    • Battery-operated radio
    • Drinking water, stored in closed, clean containers
    • Change of clothes for each household member
    • Sleeping bag or bedroll and pillow for each household member
    • Checkbook, cash, credit cards
    • Map of the area
[  ]  Take photos/video of your property and possessions for insurance claim support.
[  ]  Sore all important documents and irreplaceable objects in protective containers. If a major flood is expected, consider a storage facility.
[  ]  Post emergency numbers by the phone and in cell phones. Teach children to dial 911.
[   ] Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family.
[  ]  Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the family contact in case family is separated during a flood.
[   ] Buy and install sump pumps with backup power.
[  ]  Have an electrician raise electric component switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation.
[  ]  Install backflow valves for drains, toilets and other sewer connections to prevent floodwaters from entering.
[  ]  Anchor fuel tanks. A broken supply line from an unanchored fuel tank can contaminate your basement, and the contamination can be swept downstream, damaging other homes.
[  ]  Elevate washers and dryers on masonry or pressure-treated lumber at least 12 inches above projected flood level.
[  ]  Place the furnace and water heater on masonry blocks or concrete 12 inches above projected flood level.
[   ] During flood season, keep the car’s gas tank filled.
[   ] Find out safe routes from home, office and school to higher ground.
[  ]  Keep on hand sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber and other waterproofing materials.

During the Flood:

[  ]  Fill bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated.
[  ]  Listen to a battery-operated radio for storm information. (KFBK 1530 AM is one station that provides information in an emergency.)
[  ]  If told to do so by local authorities, turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve.
[   ] If you have time, move valuable items to second stories.
[  ]  Use shutters to protect windows. Do not tape windows; it is not recommended.
[   ] Use cell phones and land lines sparingly.
[  ]  If told to evacuate your home, do so immediately. Close all windows and doors to prevent wind damage.
[  ]  If the waters start to rise inside your home before you can be evacuated, retreat to the second floor, the attic or the roof.
[  ]  Floodwaters may carry raw sewage, chemical waste and disease-spreading substances. If you come in contact with floodwaters, wash and sanitize your hands.
[  ]  Avoid walking through floodwaters. As little as 6 inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
[   ] Don’t drive through a flooded area. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go the other way. A car can be carried by just 2 feet of moving floodwater.
[  ]  Electric current passes easily through water, so stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.
[  ]  Watch out for displaced animals, especially snakes.
[  ]  Important things to take with you when evacuating:
    • Driver’s license or personal identification
     • Social Security card
     • Proof of residence (deed or lease)
     • Insurance policies
     • Birth and marriage certificates
    • Stocks, bonds, other negotiable certificates
    • Wills, deeds, copies of recent tax returns
    • Cameras
[  ]  Wear water-resistant, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, sturdy shoes.
[  ]  Lock your home.
[   ] Use travel routes specified by authorities; don’t use shortcuts.
[   ] Family members should agree on a place to meet in case of separation. Arrange for a place to stay (a relative’s or friend’s house, for example) in case of any emergency, one in the area and one out of state.

After the Flood:

[  ]  Cal the agent who handles your flood insurance claim.
[  ]  Take photos/video of the water in/around the house and save damaged personal property. An adjuster will need to see what’s been damaged in order to process your claim.
[  ]  Check home for structural damage before reentering. Do not use matches, lighters or any open flame when reentering your home. Gas may be trapped inside. If you smell gas or hear hissing, open a window, leave quickly and call the gas company from the nearest available phone.
[  ]  Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system.
[  ]  Avoid using the toilets and the tap until you have checked for sewage and water line damage. Have a plumber inspect your system before using it.
[   ] Throw away any food—including canned goods—that has come in contact with floodwater.
[  ]  Boil water for drinking and food preparation until local officials declare your water to be safe.
[  ]  Follow local building codes and ordinances when rebuilding. Use flood-resistant materials and techniques to protect your property from future flood damage.

Protect Your Pets

The American Red Cross

advises that you include pets in your disaster plan. Do not leave your pets if you are evacuating your home; your pets will not be safe—even if you believe you’ve created a safe place for them.

Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety regulations. Only service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters.

Contact motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if “no pet” policies are waived in case of emergencies.

Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they could shelter your pets. Be prepared to split up multiple pets if you need to.

Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter pets in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers.
 
Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in the event of a disaster. Animal shelters may be overburdened because of demand; this should be your last resort.

Assemble a portable pet disaster supplies kit:
    • Medications and medical records, first-aid kit (store in waterproof container)
    • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, carriers to transport pets
    • Photos of your pets in case they get lost
    • Food, water, cat litter and litter box, manual can opener, bowls
    • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, name and number of veterinarian
     • Pet beds and toys, if transportable
   
Bring all pets indoors at first sign of bad weather or impending disaster.
   
Make sure cats and dogs are wearing collars and securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Attach address and phone of temporary shelter on masking tape along back of the collar.
   
The American Red Cross gives information about how to transport and keep safe birds, reptiles and other pets: redcross.org under the “Animal Safety” link.
   
For more information on emergency animal rescue services, go to United Animal Nations’ website, uan.org.

For information about flooding, including flood plain maps, safety tips and hotlines, check out the following resources:

Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency:
(916) 874-7606; safca.org

American River Flood Control District:
(916) 929-4006; arfcd.org
American Red Cross: redcross.org

Federal Emergency Management Agency:
fema.gov

For information about federal flood insurance availability/requirements:

(888) 225-5356, ext. 445

To check on area creek levels (which are monitored automatically and updated online every 15 minutes), go to sacflood.org and click on “Stream Levels.”

For information about training to become a first responder through the Community Emergency Response Team program, go to citizencorps.gov/cert/.