The recent storms have resulted in major damage and chaos in certain areas of Placer and Nevada County. From downed power lines and trees (causing outages and limited cell service) to snow covered driveways, cars and roads, residents are having difficulty staying warm, getting food/supplies and reaching out for help . Not to mention many are faced with damage to cars and homes caused by the severe weather that wreaked havoc on our little communities.
A Friday morning update from The Union stated there are still various areas without power and PG&E does not currently have an estimated time for restoration. Those areas are: Highway 20, northeast of Nevada City, Cascade Shores, Alta Sierra and Chicago Park. The Auburn Journal reported that the storm took down more than 10,000 trees in Placer County alone and left tens of thousands without power. There was also damage to a PCWA canal causing many to conserve water until repairs can be made. Considering this has all taken place during the holidays, many travelers were affected and stranded due to road closures.
While many are still very much in the process of recovering, it’s not a bad idea to reflect and start thinking about preparedness before the next winter storm arrives. Given the amount of issues faced by so many residents, there is much to consider. When strong winds and heavy rain and snow are forecasted, there is always a chance of power outages. Furthermore, downed trees and heavy snowfall can create barriers that keep you from getting out of your house or to the store for supplies. It’s important to prepare yourself and your home ahead of time to avoid major inconveniences and health/safety issues.
Consider these tips and tools to help keep you and your family safe:
- Keep an eye on the weather forecast so you know when and what to expect.
- Sign up for outage notifications on PG&E’s website to be notified when crews are on their way, the estimated restoration time and when power is restored
- Build or restock your emergency supply kit. This should include food and water for at least 3 days (but more is better), flashlights, batteries, first aid kit, medications, blankets, firewood (if applicable).
- Freeze water-filled plastic bags so you can place them in the fridge if the power goes out to preserve perishable food.
- Charge up any electrical devices that can be charged and are useful in times of emergencies: flashlights, portable battery packs, cell phones, laptop.
- If you have a generator that you plan to use, be sure to set it up, prime it, and know how to operate it properly. Do NOT wait until the day a storm hits to set it up. Also be sure you have propane or gas on hand. If you have an electric generator, be sure it’s charged.
- Keep contact information handy for friends, family members, neighbors, doctors and the local police/fire department. It might not be a bad idea to have a paper copy of these numbers in case your cell phone dies. You may need to borrow a friend or neighbor’s phone to make calls.
Preparing Your Home and Property
- Have the roof inspected to ensure it’s in good condition and won’t allow water into the house. If you have a tile roof, be sure to have it cleaned regularly to prevent build up of debris that can cause issues leading to leaks.
- Assess trees on your property, especially those nearest to the house. If the weight of the branches are uneven or not sturdy, they risk coming down in the storm and causing damage to the house and anything else below.
- Caulk windows and doors and ensure they have weather stripping installed.
- Check chimneys to be sure they are properly flashed and hooded and do not have cracks.
- Thoroughly clean gutters to remove all leaves and debris. Run water through them to ensure it flows freely out the downspout.
- Inspect your property for areas that can lead to drainage issues.
- Store or secure outdoor furniture, garbage cans, or anything else that could be blown away due to strong winds.
With clear weather over the next few days, it’s a good idea to start checking some of these things off your list. Don’t worry if you can’t tackle everything at once. Even some preparedness is better than nothing at all. Figure out what is most important to you and most relevant to your house and property and start there.
Written by Jessica Ornelas, edited by Barrett Property Management, Inc.