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Emergencies & Your Health

Planning ahead to protect ourselves in a disaster, including people who are medically vulnerable.

About PlaneTree Health Library

PlaneTree Health Library's mission is to guide the public to trustworthy, accurate, and free health and medical information. In operation since 1989, it is a free, public, patient and consumer health library and 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It does not accept advertisements; it has no commercial relationship with the sources of information on these webpages. Visit our online information guides linked from our main website at: www.planetree-sv.org

  Updated daily

Heavy rainfall flooded several areas of the greater Bay Area for several hours on on Dec. 31, 2022. Nine waves of  heavy rainfall, along with high winds (what meteorologists call an atmospheric river) and rapidly dropping barometric pressure (forming a "bomb cyclone") came through in the next three weeks, hammering Northern California.  The most recent storm was over the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend; since then, communities in our area have been cleaning up from flooding, mudslides, downed trees, and road closures.

Until the next emergency, this webpage will shift to providing links to recovery resources and preparing for the next..


Our region is at risk of dangerous:

  • flooding (including flash floods);
  • downed trees;
  • high wind and/or high surf damage;
  • power outages;
  • mudslides;
  • blocked roads.

Everyone is encouraged to subscribe to local emergency alerts and prepare for potential evacuation orders, power outages, floods or mudslides (see the sections for each in this collection). Those who are dependent on an electrical device, or chronically or severely ill, check out the section for keeping medically-vulnerable people safe.

Finding information fast when a disaster hits

Santa Clara County -- sign up with AlertSCC to get local emergency alerts on your phone!

 

Alert SCC

For other counties in our area, find your local warnings by searching with your county name and the word: Alert.

Cleaning up After

After a flood or mudslide, there's a lot of hard work, with its own hazards. Once it's safe to start, roads need to be cleared of debris, downed trees, mud. Electrical lines may need to be secured. Flooded buildings may need professional remediation work.

From the CA  Governor’s Office of Emergency Services:

Until January 27, 2023, several relief agencies are staffing a free hotline for the public to request help cleaning up from the recent flooding. This hotline will connect survivors with reputable and vetted voluntary relief agencies that will assist in debris cleanup and mucking out, as they are able. All services are free, but service is not guaranteed due to the expected overwhelming need. 

CA Flooding Home Cleanup Hotline 844-965-1386

Línea Directa Para Limpieza de Hogar Llame 844-965-1386


Other recovery resources:

 

(Santa Clara County has not been approved for FEMA assistance [yet], but the statewide declaration of emergency does qualify South Bay residents for some types of assistance, like waiving replacement fees for important documents, and in some cases, an automatic extension of tax deadlines.)


Beware Donation Scams (or just mis-communication)

When disasters hit, for many people the first thought after "I'm safe (mostly)" is "How can I help?". Unfortunately, though, for some that second thought is "how can I make a profit from this?".  Scammers feed on our desires to help each other.

If asked for money:

Please be cautious of crowdfunding requests, individuals asking for gift card donations, and other requests for cash or checks. Verify that the organization or company making the ask is legitimate; and dig further into GoFundMe requests before giving. If the funds are supposedly going to a particular charity, call or email that organization directly to ask for confirmation that a third party is fundraising for them.

 

If asked for material donations (food, blankets or towels, clothing, toys, equipment, etc.):

Double-check with the organization that will be distributing those donations to find out 1) if they are still accepting donations, and 2) if there are limits on what kinds of materials they can accept. Donated items should be clean and undamaged; packaged food items should be within their sell-by date and ideally easy-to-open and ready-to serve.

 

If you suspect  a scam, please report it!

To find out where and how to report a suspected scam, check these links:

Help Report Flooded Local Streets  

Flood Watch, Flood Warning, Flood Advisory - what do they mean?

What is the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning issued by the National Weather Service?

  • Flash Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.
    Flash Flood Warnings are changing to an Impact-Based format to improve public response. Read the factsheet.

  • Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.

  • Flood Watch: Be Prepared: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur, along with favorable conditions for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.

  • Flood Advisory: Be Aware: An Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.


Preparing for a flood is much like preparing for any other emergency, except:

  • To avoid additional problems when water hits power, before waters reach you, turn off electricity and gas at the main switches / valves, and disconnect electrical appliances.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or there is standing water, however!
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car immediately and move to higher ground. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away. A foot of water will float many vehicles; two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pick-ups. Remember: turn around, don't drown.
  • Do not try to walk or swim through floodwaters.

See more in the section on Floods and Mudslides in this collection.

    To find out if your home or business is in a flood zone, check FEMA's flood zone maps.

This video from Valley Water describes how:


Evacuations, Other Closures and Alerts

Use the map (linked below) to see current evacuation zones (warnings, advisories, & mandatory orders) and road closures). Zoom in to see details.


If your electricity goes out, use this link to report it to PG&E (if you have sufficient battery on your smart phone, that is!), and to check estimates for when it will be restored:

Shelter

Need a place to go during severe storms? Told to evacuate but not sure where to go?

The Red Cross operates 24/7 shelters at:

Not Red Cross, but other overnight shelters are:

  • San Martin Lions Club, 12415 Murphy Ave., San Martin, CA 95949

Overnight Warming Locations (OWLs) are open nightly from 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. by referral only; call 408-539-2105 or email owlreferrals@homefirstscc.org to shelter at:

  • Roosevelt Community Center, 901 East Santa Clara Street, San José 
  • West Valley Branch Library, 1243 San Tomas Aquino Road, San José.

Daytime shelter ("warming centers") can be found at these public libraries: Cupertino; Gilroy; Los Altos Library & Woodland Library; Los Gatos; Milpitas; Morgan Hill; Saratoga; Santa Clara (Central, Mission Branch, Northside Branch);  San José (Alum Rock Branch Library, East San José Carnegie Branch Library, Educational Park Branch Library, Hillview Branch Library, Joyce Ellington Branch Library, Pearl Avenue Branch Library, Rose Garden Library). Also at the Southside Community Center, 5585 Cottle Rd., San José.

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