As the rainy season gets underway, Department of Public Works officials encourage residents to take precautions and protect themselves and their property from flood risks and flood damage. The Los Angeles basin is subject to floods caused by short duration high intensity storms. A moderate rainfall on the coast may produce very heavy rain in the mountains, creating risks of mudflows. In the flat lands, a short-lived storm can cause ponding that damages property and increases traffic accidents.
Flood Prevention Tips
- Keep drainage areas (ditches, swales, small channels) free of debris accumulation.
- Consult an engineer to design a permanent water/flood debris control device, if needed.
- Ensure that drainage facilities are functioning properly
- Landscape slope areas with plants suitable for fire retardant and erosion control.
- Report clogged catch basins to the City Hot Line (800) 974-9794 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or (213) 485-7575 after 4 p.m. and on weekends.
- Report water in streets overtopping the curb to the Bureau of Engineering at (213) 485-4559.
- Review your insurance coverage. Homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage.
Insurance premiums are reduced ten percent if the building is located within the City’s 100-year floodplain. Areas outside the 100-year floodplain receive a five percent discount. However, there is a 30-day waiting period for the flood insurance to become effective.
Tips for Personal Safety During a Flood
- Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number-one cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there.
- Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in their car than anywhere else. Do not drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out.
- Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. The number-two flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Electrical currents can travel through water. Report downed power lines to the Department of Water and Power or the City emergency management office.
- Have your electricity turned off by the Department of Water and Power. Some appliances, such as televisions, keep electrical charges even after they have been unplugged. Do not use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.
- Look out for animals, especially snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in your home. Use a pole or a stick to poke and turn things over and scare away small animals
- Look before you step. After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery
- Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Do not smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you know that gas had been turned off and the area has ventilation.
To request an information package about flood insurance, emergency flood protection measures, and erosion control in hillside areas as well as key City telephone numbers, call (213) 485-4559. Information on how to retrofit flood prone structures is available at local Los Angeles libraries.