Preparing for Rain Storms
Incident: King Post-Fire BAER Burned Area Emergency Response
PREPARING FOR RAIN STORMS
PLACERVILLE, CA (October 9, 2014) –The King Fire started on September 13 and burned in steep, rugged canyons on the Eldorado National Forest and a portion onto the Tahoe National Forest. The wildfire increases the potential for flooding, mud and debris flows that could impact homes, structures, roads, and other infrastructure within, adjacent to, and downstream from the burned area. Winter in the Sierra Nevada region can bring heavy rain storms and residents and visitors should remain alert to possible flooding when travelling along roads downstream from the burned area of the King Fire.
A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team is working with the Eldorado National Forest (www.fs.usda.gov/eldorado) to assess the condition of the watersheds that were burned in the King Fire. The BAER assessment team identifies potential emergency threats to critical values-at-risk, and recommends emergency stabilization response actions that are implemented on federal lands to reduce potential threats.
One of the most effective BAER strategies is interagency coordination with local cooperators who assist affected businesses, homes, and landowners prepare for rain events. The Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the El Dorado County and Georgetown Divide Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) are working together and coordinating with other federal, state and local agencies, and counties that assist private landowners in preparing for increased run-off and potential flooding.
Federal assistance to private landowners is administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program (www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/ca/programs/?cid=nrcs144p2_064025). NRCS and the RCDs work with local governments (sponsors) to implement emergency measures in the wake of natural disasters to safeguard human lives and property. NRCS and the local sponsor prepare damage survey reports for eligible sites on private lands adjacent to and downstream from affected areas. NRCS uses these reports, along with the BAER team’s assessment report, to develop emergency measures to reduce the impacts from potential increased water and mud flows, and assist sponsors to implement recommended emergency measures. (www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1045263.pdf).
Multiple agencies work with BAER teams and look at the full scope and scale of the situation to reduce the potential threats to human life and safety, and property; however, BAER emergency stabilization actions on federal lands cannot prevent all of the potential flooding or soil erosion impacts, especially after wildfires change the landscape.
It is important that residents take steps to protect themselves and their property from flooding and mudflows:
For their safety, communities need to monitor local weather reports and public safety bulletins, local road closures, emergency notifications, weather alerts, follow local county and city advisories, and act accordingly.
Use a “weather radio” or smart phone “weather app” that monitors “all hazards” alerts issued by the NOAA-National Weather Service (www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/).
Prepare for rainstorms by being prepared to evacuate if county or city emergency officials determine that flooding and mudflows are expected which could pose an increased threat to human life, safety, and property.
Know and be alert to environmental signs of dangerous weather conditions and be prepared to take action that can save lives.
Understand that all drainages within and downstream of the King Fire area can produce flash flooding.
If you find yourself in a flood, climb to safety (seek higher ground).
Even if the water appears shallow enough to cross, don’t try it by vehicle or foot. Water hides dips in the road – worse yet, there may be no road left under the water as flooding can scour away the entire road surface and ground beneath the road.
Resources to assist with Preparing for Flooding-Mudflows and Interagency Cooperator Information:
El Dorado County Office of Emergency Services (www.edcgov.us/Government/Sheriff/Divisions/Support/Office_of_Emergency_Services_(OES).aspx?terms=emergency%20services) promotes preparedness through its emergency services program to assist the county prepare for, respond appropriately to, and quickly recover from natural emergencies that may impact county residents. El Dorado County communities can register to receive important notices and alerts during emergencies at http://ready.edso.org/ and information regarding evacuation guidelines at www.edcgov.us/Government/PublicHealth/PublicHealthPreparedness/Having_an_Evacuation_Plan.aspx?terms=evacuation, and whether you and your family are prepared for emergencies at www.edcgov.us/uploadedFiles/Government/Sheriff/IFB.pdf.
Placer County Office of Emergency Services (www.placer.ca.gov/departments/ceo/emergency)
promotes preparedness through its emergency services program to assist the county prepare for, respond appropriately to, and quickly recover from natural emergencies that may impact the county residents. Information regarding emergency preparedness is available at www.placer.ca.gov/departments/ceo/emergency/preparedness%20tips and provides current Placer County emergency information at www.placer.ca.gov/departments/ceo/emergency/currentemergencyinfo. Placer County communities can register to receive important notices and alerts during emergencies at www.placer-alert.org/.
The California Office of Emergency Services provides information emergency preparedness and about flood and storm preparation:
The California Department of Water Resources provides information to the public regarding flood and safety:
Other Federal Agencies
The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) – Sacramento District coordinates its Emergency Management program with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local governments to provide engineering services to respond to national and natural disasters in order to minimize damages and help in recovery efforts. Public Law 84-99 enables the Corps to assist state and local authorities in flood fight activities and cost share in the repair of flood protection structures. Public Law 93-288 authorizes FEMA to task the Corps with disaster recovery missions under the Federal Response Plan (www.usace.army.mil/Missions/EmergencyOperations/NationalResponseFramework/FloodControl.aspx).
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, signed into law on July 6, 2012 by President Obama, reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through September 30, 2017, and increasing access for some residents whose homes could be impacted by flooding from federal land that resulted from wildfires. This law may allow residents in these impacted communities to be eligible for an exception from the 30-day waiting period usually required for flood insurance coverage. Additional information about NFIP is available through FEMA at www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program, or Flood Smart at www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/about/nfip_overview.jsp. Other flood preparedness information is available at www.ready.gov/floods, and www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/ffr_overview.jsp.
The USDI Geological Survey (USGS) provides “water watch” internet tools and flood information for the State of California: