SonomaCountyRecovers: Official recovery information for Sonoma County fires

Rain Ready

Multiple, federal, state, and local agencies are taking action to protect our watershed and prevent flooding, this includes:

  • In urban areas, the City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma are cleaning and checking storm drains, and installing straw wattles and gravel bags to prevent debris from entering storm drains.
  • In rural areas, the County is checking and installing debris-capture devices in culverts and ditches along rural roadways.
  • CAL FIRE crews, the City, and the County are clearing fire debris from streams and storm water channels to reduce flood risks.
  • The Sonoma County Agricultural & Open Space District, Sonoma County Regional Parks, and City of Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks are assessing their properties within the burned areas for hazardous conditions including downed and damaged trees and areas where erosion may affect streams and watersheds.
  • The Sonoma County Water Agency will be installing rainfall and stream gauges in watersheds in burned areas and working to install radar equipment to improve early warning forecasts for residents in high-risk areas.

Increased Risk of Flooding

A multi-agency analysis of the fire damage found that properties located within fire burn areas may be at risk for flash floods, mudflows and debris flows.

To familiarize yourself with the potential hazards associated with the burned areas please view the Post-Fire Hazard Assessment Map.

Residents who live in areas identified as at medium and high-risk of flash flooding, debris and mud flows will receive information in the mail the week of 12/26. Preview that information here.

Roadside signage will be installed in areas that have been identified as high risk in late December/early January. Preview that signage here.

Be Prepared

The National Weather Service expects debris flows to become more likely during periods of intense rainfall. Be prepared by:

  • Identifying vulnerable areas on your property.
  • Using erosion control techniques, such as installing wattles and rock bags, and clearing fire-related debris from creeks and drainages to reduce flooding.
  • Have an evacuation and emergency plan ready.
  • Keep your cell phone turned on at all times to receive emergency alerts.

Stay Informed

National Weather Service Warning System:

  • The National Weather Service issues weather advisories and watches when the weather forecast indicates there is a potential for hazardous conditions. Watches and advisories are shared online at https://www.weather.gov/alerts, and on the National Weather Service social media Facebook and Twitter feeds.
  • Warning: The National Weather Service will issue a Warning if hazardous conditions are imminent or occurring within the burn areas.
  • The National Weather Service sends Warnings over the Wireless Emergency Alerts system that will send a message to all cell phones in the burn areas and will also send out alerts through the Emergency Alert System that broadcasts on radios and televisions.

Sign up for Sonoma County Emergency Alerts:

  • Sign up for SoCo Alerts by visiting http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/SoCoAlert/. SoCo Alerts will resend any Warnings issued by the National Weather Service and will issue evacuation warnings.

Weather Emergency Radios

  • In areas where there is limited cell service, or if a power outage occurs, Emergency Warnings from the National Weather Service will be announced on the Weather Emergency Radios, which rely on batteries.

 

Emergency public hotlines - Flood, sanitation, streams maintenance

Flood Forecast Hotline: (707) 526-4768

The Flood Forecast is a recording that provides updates on local river conditions. The recordings are updated by the Sonoma County Water Agency as conditions change.

Stream Maintenance: (707) 521-1845

Report any stream related issues, such as debris or stream channel changes, to prevent localized flooding.

Sewage Emergency Hotline: (707) 523-1070

The Sewage Emergency Hotline is operated on a 24-hour basis at the Sonoma County Water Agency's Operations Center. Call this hotline to report any sewage spills, overflows or backed-up sewer lines.

 

Erosion Control and Flood Prevention for Property Owners

Erosion control and soil stabilization practices are needed and should be used in areas where soil is exposed and natural vegetation is inadequate. Information about Erosion Control can be found on the Sonoma Resource Conservation District Website at:  http://sonomarcd.org/resources/fire-recovery/.

Sonoma Resource Conservation District

Additional Resources

Erosion control: 

Where to find wattles: 

  • A community resource is connecting people who want wattles installed on their property with organizations that can assist them. Click here to learn more. 
  • Wattles are available for purchase at local hardware stores. 
  • Install straw wattles to prevent debris, ash and erosion from flowing into waterways. Straw wattles can be picked-up from local hardware stores.
  • If you see something (flooding, mud and debris flows), say something – call 911
  • Monitor your surroundings, and have an emergency plan in place.
  • Stay informed: Listen to local radio stations, and sign up for Nixle and SoCo Alerts. Make sure that the emergency alerts on your cell phone are activated (on smart phones, go to “Notifications” and make sure the Emergency Alerts notification is turned on).

After a fire, windborne material such as ash and soil from paddocks with inadequate ground cover may be blown into streams. Once in the water, organic materials provide ideal food for bacteria and algae. These organisms grow rapidly using up all free oxygen in the water (it becomes anaerobic) and putrefaction results. Symptoms are dark water, a bad smell and black scum around the water’s edge. Horses and other livestock find such water unpalatable. Thick scum around the water’s edge may also prevent animals accessing the water. It is believed the water is not poisonous to livestock, but it may be harmful to young or weak stock.

  • Fire ash contains microscopic particles (dust, dirt, soot) that can be deposited on indoor and outdoor surfaces and can also be inhaled if the ash becomes airborne. Unless tested, the ash is not classified as a hazardous waste, however it may contain traces of hazardous chemicals such as metals (lead, cadmium, nickel, and arsenic), asbestos (from older homes or other buildings), perfluorochemicals (from degradation of non-stick cookware), flame retardants, and caustic materials. For these reasons, it is advisable to be cautious and avoid any unnecessary exposure to the ash.
  • Fire ash may be irritating to the skin, nose, and throat, and may cause coughing and/or nose bleeds. Fine particles can be inhaled deeply into lungs and may aggravate asthma and make it difficult to breathe. If the ash contains asbestos, nickel, arsenic or cadmium, then exposure is a particular concern because these substances can cause cancer. Because the substances in the ash vary, it is always best to be cautious.
  • Given the scale of the burned area, it will be impossible to prevent the migration of ash and debris into creeks, and the concentrations of hazardous materials is unknown.
  • Multiple agencies are working together to prevent fire-related debris, pollutants and sediment from being carried into our storm drains, creeks and rivers.

The goal this winter is to prevent ash and debris from entering the waterways. You can help by taking simple steps by placing straw wattles, hay bales, and mulch around burned areas to reduce the chances of ashes and other material from washing into streams.

Increased rain runoff in burned areas can cause mud and debris flows. Multiple, federal, state, and local agencies are taking action to protect our watershed and prevent flooding, this includes:

  • In urban areas, the City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma are cleaning and checking storm drains, and installing straw wattles and gravel bags to prevent debris from entering storm drains.
  • In rural areas, the County is checking and installing debris-capture devices in culverts and ditches along rural roadways.
  • CAL FIRE crews, the City, and the County are clearing fire debris from streams and storm water channels to reduce flood risks.
  • The Sonoma County Agricultural & Open Space DistrictSonoma County Regional Parks, and City of Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks are assessing their properties within the burned areas for hazardous conditions including downed and damaged trees and areas where erosion may affect streams and watersheds.
  • The Sonoma County Water Agency will be installing rainfall and stream gauges in watersheds in burned areas and working to install radar equipment to improve early warning forecasts for residents in high-risk areas.
  • Watch for unusual movement of water, land, and debris during or after rain. Have an emergency plan and leave your property if it becomes unsafe during or after a storm.
  • Minimize soil and slope disturbances. Ash, leaf drops, downed trees, and remnant burned vegetation all play a role in protecting the soil and slopes following wildfire.
  • Work with your neighbors. Runoff, erosion, and debris flows have no boundaries.
  • Private roads require more maintenance in the first few winters following wildfire. Clear debris upstream of culverts as possible, and check culverts for clogging after every storm. If culverts or other road drainage structures do not appear to be functioning properly, consult a professional.

For additional information, please visit  www.sonomarcd.org/resources/fire-recovery/

  • The goal this winter is to prevent ash and debris from entering the waterways. You can help by taking simple steps by placing straw wattles, hay bales, and mulch around burned areas to reduce the chances of ashes and other material from washing into streams.
  • Remember that everything that is outside drains to creeks and streams. Don’t use leaf blowers or hoses to remove ash and debris.
  • In the coming months, consider consulting a professional before implementing permanent erosion measures.
  • Wear protective gear whenever you work in burned areas.
  • Multiple agencies are working together to assess and reduce the risk of flooding and to prevent fire-related debris, pollutants and sediment from being spread into our storm drains, creeks and rivers.
  • In urban areas, the City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma are:
    • Increasing street-sweeping activities
    • Cleaning and checking storm drains
    • Installing wattles and sandbags to prevent debris from entering storm drains
    • Hydro-seeding to stabilize soil
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