Gearing up for more rain, flood danger in Inyo County

Staff Writer

The National Weather Service, Las Vegas, is forecasting another round of Pacific moisture spread across the region beginning Friday, Feb. 9. Light to moderate rainfall amounts are expected across lower elevations. The main concern is that this will be a relatively warm rain event, with snow levels initially above 9,000 feet, when most of the precipitation falls. This may lead to accelerated snow melt concerns in the southern Sierra and flooding throughout the Owens Valley.
In preparation of possible flooding conditions due to heavy rains or snow melt-off, Inyo County residents are reminded that the Inyo County Office of Emergency Services, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, and Inyo County Road Department have strategically staged sand piles at several locations throughout the Owens Valley. These sand piles are accessible anytime to all Inyo County residents for emergency preparedness and response, and will be replenished whenever possible.

BISHOP
Site 1: Back of the Bishop City Park near the Senior Center
Site 2: Bishop Fire Station 2 at West Line Street, west of Manor Market
Site 3: Bishop Fire Station 3 at SeeVee and U.S. Highway 395.
Site 4: Starlite Community Park
Site 5: Mustang Mesa-Mill Creek Road

BIG PINE
Big Pine Fire Station.

INDEPENDENCE
Inyo County Sheriff’s Facility on Clay Street
Inyo County Road Department on Mazourka Road

LONE PINE
Sand trap located on Whitney Portal Road West of the LA Aqueduct.

OLANCHA
Olancha Fire Department.
Sand bags for flood preparedness are available from many Inyo County merchants, including but is not limited to the following: Manor True Value, High Country Lumber, Home Lumber and Brown’s Supply in Bishop; Hi-Country Market in Big Pine; Gardner’s True Value in Lone Pine; and Home Depot in Pahrump.
Emergency sand bags are available from the following fire departments: Bishop Fire Station 1-Downtown Bishop, Big Pine Fire Station, Independence Fire Station, Lone Pine Fire Station, and Olancha Fire Station. Emergency sand bags will be distributed at the discretion of each fire department, and may be limited based on weather conditions, need and demand. Residents and businesses in known flood areas are urged to prepare ahead of time, utilizing the sand stockpiles listed above and sand bags purchased from local businesses.
To report flooding, contact the Sheriff’s Office at (760) 878-0383. Be prepared to tell the sheriff’s dispatcher the exact location of the flooding and if the water threatens structures, animals, land, or roadways. If water threatens human life – dial 911. And always remember: If you see water crossing a roadway – Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
Flooding is one of the many dangers of hazardous weather conditions that can compound in a hurry for those who find themselves unprepared, which sadly, can lead to emotional and/or financial devastation. Fortunately, there are some simple steps residents can take to better protect themselves, their families, their pets, and their property from the dangers of flooding:

1. Clean gutters before the first storm hits, and again afterwards.
2. Check all drainage devices and remove accumulated silt and debris. This will need to be done repeatedly throughout the rainy season.
3. Check all areas of property to ensure that all drainage is directed away from houses.
4. Do not park in front, or on top of, storm drain inlets when parking along the street.
5. On trash pick-up days, set trash cans on the curb in the parkway instead of in the street gutter. This will prevent back-up of flowing debris as well as prevent your trash cans from being swept away by swift-moving storm water.
6. Purchase tools and emergency supply materials such as shovels, sandbags and plastic sheeting and keep them handy and accessible.
7. Families should have a disaster plan and a disaster supply kit for homes and each vehicle. Form an evacuation plan. The key to surviving a flood, or any disaster, is learning the safest route away from a home to a safe area, in case it is necessary to evacuate in a hurry. Prepare a cache of emergency supplies including food, water, fresh batteries, flashlights and portable radios in good working order, matches, firewood, fuel, prescriptions and a first-aid kit. Advice on what a disaster plan should look like and what to include in disaster supply kits can be found on the Inyo County-Office of Emergency Services webpage. Visit http://www.inyocounty.us/OES/emergency_planning_and_disaster_supplies.htm for more tips and information on Emergency Planning and Disaster Supplies.
8. Know what the flood risk is for a property. Visit the following California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) webpage at
a. http://www.water.ca.gov/floodsafe/ca-flood-preparedness/fpw_home.cfm. Click on the link to enter the address location and find out what the risk level is.
9. Review home insurance policies to see if it includes flood insurance. Flood insurance is not always required, or typically included, in home policies. Read the fine print. Don’t wait until the last minute and the storm is bearing down. Most insurance companies have a 30-day waiting period before the flood policy will go into effect. Californians living in areas with any risk of flooding should purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) immediately. Learn more at https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/.
10. Make an itemized list of personal property that includes clothing, furnishings and valuables. Take photographs of homes, both inside and out, and store them in a safe place. This will help an insurance adjuster to settle any claims and to help prove uninsured losses. Don’t rely on federal disaster assistance to pay for damages. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) typically provides assistance in the form of low-interest loans, not as compensation for losses. For more information on flood-related resources, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program website at https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program.
11. And finally…..BE PROACTIVE AND BE INFORMED! Track predicted storms on the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website at http://www.noaa.gov/ and plan your travel and outdoor activities accordingly.

Remember, during emergency events such as severe storms and flooding, emergency workers may be responding to incidents all over the 10,000 square miles that make up Inyo County. It’s important that all residents and businesses take steps to be prepared and self-sufficient in the event of an emergency.
For more information on flooding risks and preparedness, check out the following link: http://www.ready.gov/floods.

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