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Recently burned areas at higher flood risk
As the seasons change, preparations and adjustments must be made to anticipate the onset of rainfall, especially in areas that have experienced a wildfire. Although the weather forecast for this week will eventually rise in temperatures, residents that live in areas that have recently burned are presented with unique challenges when rain is forecast.
Normally, vegetation absorbs rain, but after a wildfire, the charred ground where that vegetation has been burned away creates a loss of soil strength and can no longer easily absorb rainwater, increasing the risk of flooding and mudflows for several years. Properties directly affected by fires, and those located downstream of burn areas, are most at risk.
Post-fire landslide hazards include fast-moving and highly destructive debris flows. Post-fire debris flows are particularly hazardous because they can occur with little warning, can exert great impulsive loads on objects in their paths, can strip vegetation, block drainage ways, damage structures, and endanger human life. Wildfires could potentially result in the destabilization of pre-existing deep-seated landslides over long time periods.
The best preparation for possible flooding is to plan ahead. The Ready!Set!Go! Flood Preparation brochure will show you some of the things you can do to protect your home, property and family. You’ll find information about how to prepare for wet weather, things like cleaning out rain gutters and storm drains, where you can sign up for emergency alerts, fire stations that have sandbags available, and what you should have in an emergency kit. There is also specific information for areas that have recently been burned by wildfire.
Sandbags can best be used to help protect doorways if a waterproof layer like heavy plastic or waterproof canvas is placed behind them. If possible, secure it to the door frame. Stack the sandbags in a pyramid formation and wrap the plastic up and over the top. Keep in mind, sandbags DO NOT guarantee a water-tight seal, but properly placed sandbags can help redirect water, mud and debris away from your home.
The new San Bernardino County Office of Emergency Services app, Ready SB, provides residents with multiple resources that will assist them in preparing for a disaster such as flooding. Ready SB is now available as a free download from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store and can immediately help residents prepare themselves for emergencies.
Some other helpful resources: