A flood occurs when water covers land that is normally dry. Flooding is very dangerous and can cause injury or death. During a flood, you must evacuate the area. Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Six inches of moving water can knock you down. One foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

Be prepared

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Floods cause more deaths and damage than any other severe weather event. In San Luis Obispo County, flooding most commonly occurs after periods of heavy rain. Our area also has a risk of a levee break or dam failure.

Before the flood 

  • Know the types of flood risk for your area. Visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center for more information.
  • Find out if you have flood insurance.
  • Protect your property. Clean gutters and drains. Move valuables to higher levels.
  • Identify an evacuation route and safe location.
  • Determine if you live downstream from a dam or in the inundation area for a levee break.
During the flood
 
  • Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
  • Listen to Public Alert and Notification systems and media for emergency information.
  • Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters.
  • Avoid downed power lines.
  • Do not drive around barricades. Roads and bridges may have washed out.
After the flood
 
  • Return home only when told it is safe to do so.
  • Wear heavy gloves and thick boots during clean up.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or you are in water.
  • Avoid standing in flood waters. There can be dangerous debris and contamination.
Protect your home 

Visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center to determine your risk.

 Insurance
Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not protect against flood loss. For information on flood insurance, call your location insurance agent. The National Flood Insurance Program provides helpful flood insurance information.
 Sandbags
 
Understand flood terminology

The National Weather Service issues flood alerts using specific terms. The terms tell you what action, if any, you should take.

 

 Flood Advisory
Be aware. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions. Flood Advisories are issued when a specific forecasted weather event may become a nuisance. Flooding should not be bad enough to issue a Flood Warning.
 Flood Watch 
Be prepared. Keep an eye out for flooding and be prepared to move away from the area. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a hazardous weather event to occur. Conditions are favorable for flooding.
 Flood Warning 
Take action! If you are in a flood prone area, move away. Flood Warnings are issued when the weather event or flooding is about to occur or is already occurring.
 Flash Flood Warning 
Take action! If you are in a flood prone area, move to high ground at once. A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is about to occur or is already occurring. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take minutes to hours to develop.