The 2015 El Nino is predicted to be a big one, with forecasted widespread flooding and a negative economic impact on the San Diego area. As flood restoration specialists, we (Clean Earth Restorations) wanted to put together a list of tips that will help you prepare for El Nino and avoid water damage. San Diego customers can count on us to respond 24/7 for any flooding emergency.
Here is Part 1, covering "administrative" tips (insurance, family emergency strategies, etc). Read further for Parts 2 (inside preparation), 3 (outdoor preparation), and 4 (the best El Nino information references).
There are some important tasks you can do before this year's El Nino comes blasting through. They are preventative and are useful for any emergency.
Know your insurance: one of the most helpful things we can suggest is to know about your insurance. Do you have any? (Theoretically you should.) What exactly does it cover? Locate all policies and keep them in waterproof containers along with other important documents you would take with you in the event of an emergency.
Check that the policies are up to date and cover the current value of the insured property. Know when the policies are up for renewal and make sure you renew them on time or arrange for automatic renewal.
If you are in a flood zone (especially) you will want to contact your insurance company and ask if your coverage covers flooding - most homeowner policies do not cover flood water damage from storms. You would more than likely need to request separate flood coverage.
Locate and note the name and telephone number of your insurance agent or adjuster. If you have any water damage, you won't want to waste time tracking down the right contacts.
Prepare what to grab and take with you in an emergency: many people look back on emergency situations with regret -- they could have saved valuable documents and mementos from destruction if only they had planned in advance what they would take with them. There are two types of things you should put together, ready to grab if you have to leave your home under duress: things that will make your life administratively easier, and things you cannot ever replace. Examples are: identification documents (birth certificates, driver's licenses, passports, green cards), marriage/divorce decrees, social security cards, diplomas, insurance policies, property deeds, financial notes, bank documents, valuable jewelry, cash, artwork, love letters (!) and photographs.
Try to put important documents in one place, and preferably in a waterproof container. Some people prefer to put originals in safe deposit boxes and keep a copy of the original in their home. Keeping heirloom or cherished photographs in one place will also help, if you must grab them in a hurry.
There will be some things that aren't convenient to keep gathered in one place. Make a master list of documents and objects you want to make sure and take with you. Keep it on your cell phone and on your refrigerator, bulletin board, or other home area for easy reference.
Make a communication plan: knowing how to locate your loved ones during an emergency is important. If you cannot reach them by phone or in person during an emergency, choose both a 3rd person to contact (if possible) and a meeting place that would be easiest for everyone to get to. You may also want to consider having a social media account everyone has access to, in case leaving a message there is the only way to make contact. Here is an example of a written template offered by FEMA: Family Communication Plan
Know who to call in an emergency: make a list of local telephone numbers for emergency services and make sure everyone in your home either has a copy of it or knows where to find it. Here is a list that Clean Earth Restorations put together (current as of March 2014): Who to Call for Help. You can customize your own list. There are many templates online to get you started, including in the templates module of Microsoft Word. Don't forget to include emergency veterinary care -- our pets need help in emergencies too!