Preparing for El Niño

Carl Robinette

Fri January 15, 2016 10:42am

El Niño is poised to hit Southern California this year with the National Weather Service calling for above average rainfall that will last into spring of 2016, possibly even early summer.
As drought-weary Chula Vista residents anticipate plenty of much needed rain this winter, El Niño may pack more punch than would be preferred. During the 1997-98 winter, California saw 17 storm-related deaths and widespread flooding across the state caused by El Niño-related storms that resulted in more than $500 million in damage.
Local fire and police are coordinating with San Diego County disaster preparedness efforts to get ready for what may be a wet and wild winter, according Lt. Mark Jones with the Chula Vista Police Department.
“I’m part of our Mobile Field Force and we have prepared for these things and we’re always ready to go,” Jones said. The County of San Diego leads disaster response for the area and the mobile response team and other first-responders will work closely with the county in the event of flood or other disaster.
But when it comes to preparing home and family, Chula Vista residents should follow a few important steps to get ready for some extremely powerful El Niño weather patterns. Here are a few tips from the Chula Vista Fire Department to keep you safe and dry.
•Have your home inspected for leaks and potential hazards like lose wiring
•Be sure all gutters and drains are cleared of debris and not leaking
•Remove decaying trees, tree limbs and other unstable landscaping
•Install new windows if necessary
•Secure patio furniture or remove it entirely
•Check for cracked exterior paint which can contribute to dry rot
If you have a basement or below-grade space in your home, it might be a good idea to have a sump pump installed or inspected if you already have one.
It is also a good idea to check your household emergency kit or put one together if you have not already done so. Disaster preparedness kits should include:
•Seven days’ worth of food and water including for pets
•Lanterns, flashlights, candles and extra batteries
•First-aid kit and extra prescription medication for those who need it
•Blankets, clothes and shoes
Many household items may come in handy so keep items like cash, secondary identification, shovels, axes, gloves and other tools easily accessible.
Chula Vista residents can also obtain as many as 10 free sand bags from the Public Works Center on Maxwell Road with valid proof of residency. Sand bags play a critical role in flood prevention and relief efforts. Public Works is the only public sand bag distribution center in the city and is open Monday through Thursday and every-other Friday.