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El NiƱo Preparedness

What is El Niño?El Nino Graphic
El Niño is a phenomenon of the ocean atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific.  It displaces a huge volume of warm water from the western Pacific, moving it to the eastern Pacific.  This disruption has important consequences for weather and climate around the globe. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) have issued an "Advisory" alert for the 2015-2016 Winter season. El Niño is not a single storm like a hurricane, tornado, or severe thunderstorm.  Rather, we might see a series of storms over a period of days producing above normal rainfall totals. There is also the possibility of powerful, drenching rainstorms that can quickly create flooding, mud flows, and trouble on many fronts. 

Get Ready
Protecting your family and your property is your best bet against an unpredictable heavy rainy season. Here are some ways to better position yourself against whatever challenges El Niño throws your way.

  • Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit as recommended by the American Red Cross.
  • Sign up for San Bernardino County's Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS) alerts.
  • Consider purchasing flood insurance, many homeowner policies do not cover flood damage.
  • Create a list of items ahead of time to take with you if you are asked to evacuate.  Consider items such as keys, cash and credit cards, photos, insurance papers, computers, prescriptions, phone chargers, and pet supplies. 
  • Keep debris clear from rain gutters, downspouts, and drains so water can flow and drain properly. 
  • If you home and yard is prone to erosion in heavy rains, consider implementing erosion control mechanisms such as sand bagging and wattles.
  • Have a supply of sandbags and other flood prevention materials such as plastic sheeting, plywood, and tarps on hand.
  • Check the roof for leaks, damage, or displaced tiles and pay special attention to areas where separation could occur, such as around the chimney.

El Nino Preparedness Flyer

Flood Terminology

Flood Watch - Flooding is possible in your area.
Flood Warning - Flooding in your area is imminent or already occurring.
Flash Flood - A sudden, violent flood.  Flash Floods often come as a wave, and with little to no warning.   

Properly placed sandbags will redirect water, mud, and debris but they will not completely seal out water.  Sandbags should be used for low-flow protection (up to two feet). 

Where Can I Get Sandbags?
The City of Chino Hills has provided a limited supply of sand and bags for residents at the following Fire Stations:  

  • Fire Station 62, 5551 Butterfield Ranch Road, Chino Hills
  • Fire Station 64, 16231 Canon Lane, Chino Hills

Citizens with proof of residency will be issued 25 sandbags per household. Bring your own shovel to fill the sandbags. For properties that require significant sandbagging, sandbags are available for purchase at local hardware stores. Some hardware stores provide free sandbags. Sandbags will be available for as long as supplies last. For more information, please call (909) 364-2800.

How Many Sandbags Do I Need?
For 100 Lineal feet of a sandbag wall: 
One foot High:  600 - 800 bags, 10 - 13 cubic yards of sand 
Two feet High:  1,400 - 2,000 bags, 23 - 33 cubic yards of sand
Three feet High:  2,200 - 3,400 bags, 37 - 57 cubic yards of sand

For More Resources on Flooding and Flood Preparation 
Chino Valley Fire District
San Bernardino County 
San Bernardino County Department of Public Works
National Weather Service
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association El Niño Portal
Federal Emergency Management Agency
National Flood Insurance Program