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Get Winter Storm-Ready

Winter in Santa Cruz County can mean heavy rains, flooding, landslides and possible power outages. Use these tips to prepare your family in case a disaster strikes.

Create and practice a disaster plan: Decide where your family will meet if there is flooding or storm damage near your home and you need to evacuate your family and pets.

Assemble an emergency preparedness/evacuation kit: Fill backpacks with a first aid kit, essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration, a manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights, a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents, other emergency items and extra clothing and shoes.

Be aware of flood warnings: Listen to local radio and TV stations, and watch social media channels for weather news. A flood watch means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A flood warning means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon. When a warning is issued for your area, use your disaster plan and head for higher ground. If flooding is expected, use sand bags to keep water away from your home. Register your phone or voice over IP number at to get updated messages about disasters in your area.

Urban Flood tips: If you are walking and come upon a flowing stream with water above your ankles, turn around and go another way. If you are driving on a flooded road and water is rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Stay out buildings surrounded by floodwater. Floodwater often destroys foundations, causing sinking. Floors can crack or break and buildings can collapse.

Understand landslide risks: Landslides generally happen in areas where they have occurred in the past and heavily saturated ground is very susceptible to mud and debris flows. Become familiar with the land around where you live and work. Watch storm water drainage patterns on slopes near your home, especially where runoff water converges.