Storms and flooding

Are you ready for the next storm?

Winter storms can cause floods, uprooted trees, downed utility lines and landslides.

You should know the potential for flooding or flash flooding in your neighborhood.

FREE sandbags for residents

Residents can pick up sand and empty bags at the following locations. Please remember to bring a shovel. Check out the interactive sandbag station map for locations.

Alerts and real-time information 

Residents can sign up for the following notification services to receive critical information on emergencies:

San Francisquito Creek monitors

Water levels in San Francisquito Creek can be monitored by accessing the San Francisquito Creek Joint Power Authority’s flood warning site and the City of Palo Alto’s Creek Monitor webpage and.

Flood safety measures

  • Pay attention to evacuation orders. Listen to local radio or TV stations for forecasts and emergency warnings. Know about evacuation routes and nearby shelters and have plans for all family members on evacuation procedures and where to meet if you are separated during an emergency.
  • Do not drive through flooded areas. During a flood, more people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Do not drive around road barriers, the road or bridge may be washed out.  
  • Do not walk through flowing water. Flash flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. Water currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet in a strong current. If you walk through standing water, use a stick or pole to help you locate the ground.
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. Electrical currents can travel through water. Report downed power lines to 9-1-1 immediately, then call PG&E 1-800-743-5000.  
  • Have the power company turn off your electricity. Some appliances, like televisions, keep electrical charges even after they are unplugged. Do not use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.  
  • Look before you step. After a flood, the ground and floors may be covered with debris like broken bottles or nails. Floors and stairs that are covered with mud can be slippery  
  • Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect damage. Do not smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you know the gas has been shut off and the area has been ventilated. 

Property protection measures

There are several ways you can protect your property from flood damage before the flood occurs.

If there is an imminent flood threat, you can take these emergency measures:

  • Place sandbags or plastic sheeting in front of doorways and other low entry points
  • Elevate furniture above flood protection levels
  • Move valuables to a higher level
  • Create floodway openings in non-habitable areas such as garage doors
  • Seal off sewer lines to the dwelling to prevent backflow of sewer waters

You can also make permanent changes to protect a building from flood damage:

  • Keep water away by regrading the lot
  • Build a small floodwall or earthen berm. This can be helpful for some houses on slab foundations.
  • If your house is on a crawlspace, a low floodwall, berm or “wet flood proofing” may help. Wet flood proofing means moving all items subject to flood damage out of harm’s way so water can flow into the crawlspace without causing problems.
  • Make the walls waterproof and put watertight closures over doors. This is called “dry flood proofing.”
  • If floodwaters go over the first floor, you can raise the building above flood protection levels.
  • Electrical panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters, washers and dryers should be elevated or relocated to a location less likely to be flooded.