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El Niño is coming, are you ready?

Elder Creek at BaselineThe San Bernardino County Fire Department Office of Emergency Services will host a series of public awareness meetings beginning tonight regarding this winter’s expected El Niño storm system.

The first meeting will be held Oct. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at  Victorville City Hall, 14343 Civic Drive.

Meetings will also be held on:

– Monday, Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Yucca Valley Community Center, 57090 Twentynine Palms Highway in Yucca Valley
– Thursday, Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center, 12505 Cultural Center Drive in Rancho Cucamonga

The public is strongly encouraged to attend. The best way to get prepared is to get informed. The first 50 attendees will receive a personal disaster preparedness kit from California Volunteers.

In its most recent El Niño Diagnostic Discussion, the National Weather Service along with the federal Climate
Prediction Center stated “there is an approximately 95 percent chance” that El Niño will continue through the winter
and begin to weaken in the spring.

After four years of drought, our ground is so dry and hard that it cannot absorb enough water when we do get
rain, which leads to dangerous flooding situations. Risks are higher for areas that have experienced wildfires
recently, specifically the risk of mudslides. According to the US Geological Survey, “post-fire landslide hazards
include fast-moving, highly destructive debris flows that can occur in the years immediately after wildfires in
response to high intensity rainfall events.”

Already this year we have seen multiple major flooding and mudslide events. In mid-October, flooding and mud
flows trapped hundreds of motorists in adjacent counties and forced the temporary closure of Interstate 5
through the Tehachapi Mountains. In early September, a couple on a first date got caught in a flash flood at Mill
Creek crossing in Forest Falls. While she was able to make it to shore, he did not make it out of the water alive.
In August, flash flooding in Riverside County washed out a bridge on Interstate 10.

San Bernardino County Fire Office of Emergency Services, the National Weather Service, San Bernardino County Public Works, and the state Department of Water Resources will update you on the latest El Niño forecast and how local
government is preparing. They will also provide flood preparation materials for residents.

For additional information, please contact the Office of Emergency Services at (909) 356-3998. To learn more
about flood preparation, visit www.sbcfire.org or visit the County’s El Niño page.

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