Talking Points & Messages

The CFPW 2019 Talking Points are available for download as a PDF here. The Talking Points document includes talking points on the history of CFPW, "Many Faces of Flooding," and "Be Aware! Be Prepared! Take Action!"

and the Messages are available for download as a PDF here. The Messages document includes descriptions o the Many Faces of Flooding in California.

The information provided in the PDFs is also available below.

History of CFPW

  • CFPW began in 2012 with a single event in Sacramento County
  • CFPW enters its eighth year with events across the State
  • CFPW purpose is to empower local agencies and entities to inform their citizens about flood risk and flood preparedness using best practices for flood risk communication and to coordinate federal and state agency coordination to support local communities’ efforts.

2019 Theme: Many Faces of Flooding

Flooding is a statewide problem.

  • California experiences many types of flooding: alluvial fan, debris flow, riverine, coastal, tsunami, flash, and localized floods. Not every part of California experiences every type of flooding, but the results of each is the same: without proper preparedness, lives, homes, infrastructure and agriculture are lost, and damage to the environment and economy is likely. Preparing for devastating floods is critical.
  • Every California county has experienced a federally declared flood disaster in the past 20 years.
  • Counties with relatively low risk for a major flood event would be impacted by the results of a catastrophic flood elsewhere in the state, when employment centers, transportation facilities, utilities and the economy are affected.

California is at catastrophic risk for devastating floods.

  • Just one foot of water can cause more than $54,000 in damages to a $150,000 single-family home.
  • A home in the 100-year floodplain is almost twice as likely to suffer damage from flooding than from fire during the life of a 30-year mortgage.
  • Statewide, $5.4 billion in crop values are exposed to the 100-year floodplain.
  • Statewide, 7.9 million people live and work in the 500-year floodplain.

DWR works with federal and local agencies to prepare for potential flooding.

  • DWR has developed the Flood Emergency Response Information Exchange (FERIX) to improve flood emergency preparedness, response, and recovery in California. FERIX provides participating agencies an online system to access and exchange current flood information in real-time through Web GIS interface. It integrates georeferenced databases, a real-time data collection and exchange system, and a decision support system supporting our other programs, various hydrologic and hydraulic computer models and tools, and applicable flood-related documents.
  • DWR has established facilities, across the State, with prepositioned flood fight materials; sand bags, muscle walls, plastic wraps, and rock. These materials are located in warehouses and mobile container boxes in areas that can be easily accessed in the event of flooding.
  • DWR plans and conducts training annual training exercises related to flooding scenarios across the State.

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Take Action!

Be Aware of your Risk

  • Know whether your home is in a flood zone and what type of flooding is likely in your area.

Be Prepared

  • Make a flood emergency kit. This includes a list of important phone numbers, medication, flash light, batteries and a radio.
  • Make an evacuation plan. If your community is flooding, you may not be able to drive on your usual roads.
  • Make a plan to communicate with family members if you should leave home.
  • Check into the national flood insurance program. Most homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover this type of flooding.

Take Action

  • If your community is flooding:
    • Stay informed by listening to the news
  • Always evacuate if you are directed to do so. Help may not be able to get to you later if you stay home.
  • Never try to drive through a flooded street. Just 6” of water can stall or float most cars. If you can’t drive out, get to the highest area in your home or building.

Flooding in California

  • Do you live in California? Do you visit California?
  • Do you know when it typically floods in California?
  • Do you know that every county in California has been declared a federal flood disaster area at least once in the last 20 years?

Types of Flooding

California experiences many types of flooding: alluvial fan, debris flow, riverine, coastal, tsunami, flash, and localized floods. Not every part of California experiences every type of flooding, but the results of each is the same: without proper preparedness, lives, homes, infrastructure and agriculture are lost, and damage to the environment and economy is likely. Preparing for devastating floods is critical.

Important Facts about Floods

  • More people die in floods each year than in any other type of natural disaster. Between 1975 and 2005, an average of 127 people died in floods each year in the U.S.
  • Six inches of fast-moving water can knock an adult off his or her feet.
  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • 18 inches of water will float most cars; two feet of water can float SUVs and trucks.
  • It is extremely difficult to see how deep flood water is, so don’t drive through water on the roadway.
  • Just one foot of water can cause more than $54,000 in damages to a $150,000 single-family home.
  • A home in the 100-year floodplain is almost twice as likely to suffer damage from flooding than from fire during the life of a 30-year mortgage.
  • Statewide, $5.4 billion in crop values are exposed to the 100-year floodplain.
  • Statewide, 1.4 million people live and work in the 100-year floodplain.
  • California is at catastrophic risk for devastating floods.
  • California’s diverse geography contributes to the state’s significant flood risk. In many California regions, peak flows– the largest volume of water flowing per second through a water system – occur in a very short timeframe, which spells disaster.
  • Flooding is a statewide problem.
  • Every California county has experienced a federally declared flood disaster in the past 20 years. Counties with relatively low risk for a major flood event would be impacted by the results of a catastrophic flood elsewhere in the state, when employment centers, transportation facilities, utilities and the economy are affected.
  • The impacts of a major flood would be devastating to California and to the nation. In addition to tragic loss of life, flooding in California can have a serious impact on the state’s economy and environmental resources. As one of the world’s largest economies, a major flood in California will have an unprecedented impact on the national economy as well. With many more people and structures per square mile in California’s urban areas, California would likely see much higher recovery costs from a major flood than the $110 billion that has been spent on recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; or the $60 billion that has been appropriated for recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

Be Aware, Be Prepared

  • Know your risk and take action to reduce your risk.
  • Stay away from rising creeks, streams and rivers.
  • “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”™. Don’t drive through water on the roadway; during floods, more people are trapped and die in their vehicles than anywhere else.
  • Know how to leave the area quickly if you see water start to rise.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and know your evacuation routes.
  • Do not attempt to cross flowing water that may be more than knee deep. If you have doubts, don't cross.
  • Have an emergency preparedness kit. Red Cross PDF for developing a kit: http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/checklists/Be_Red_Cross_Ready.pdf
  • Choose a family meeting place and a plan for how to communicate during an emergency.
  • If you live in a flood-prone area, consider buying flood insurance.
  • During threatening weather, listen to local radio or TV news channels for watch and warning bulletins:
    • Flood Watch means it is possible that flooding will occur in a specified area. Be alert and prepared for a flood emergency.
    • Flood Warning means flooding is occurring or is imminent in a specified area. Move to safe ground immediately.

More information about flood types and flood preparedness can be found at the following websites:

Alluvial Fan and Debris Flow Flooding

  • Do you live in a mountainous area? Do you live in the foothills? Do you live along the coast?
  • If you live in or visit one of these areas, at some time you may experience alluvial fan or debris flow flooding.

Alluvial Fan Flooding

Alluvial Fan Flooding is flashy and unpredictable. It is characterized by relatively shallow depths, high velocity, and moving soil and sediment, creating uncertainty about where rising water will travel. Alluvial fan flooding is unique in that it only occurs on alluvial fans. An alluvial fan is a fan-shaped landform that has been created by erosion of sediment from an upland source. Alluvial fans are common in parts of central and southern California and as a result alluvial fan flooding is a concern.

Debris Flow Flooding

Debris flow floods are made up of water, mud, and debris; they can form and accelerate quickly, reaching high velocities and traveling great distances. Debris flows are commonly caused by heavy, localized rainfall on hillsides where vegetation has been destroyed by fire. Debris flows can demolish homes and other structures, wash out roads and bridges and sweep away cars. In debris flow flooding, mud remains after a flood has receded, causing additional expense to remove. In January 2005, a hillside gave way in La Conchita (Ventura County), damaging 36 houses and killing 10 people.

Impact

Similar to a flash flood, alluvial fan flooding can occur with little warning. But in some instances, weather conditions that can lead to alluvial fan flooding are predictable, providing more time to take precautionary measures. Alluvial fan flows and debris flows can be particularly hazardous because large debris can be transported by the fast-moving and dense mix of slurry and boulders.

Riverine Flooding - Rivers, Creeks, and Streams

  • Do you have a stream, creek or river in your neighborhood?
  • Do you visit streams, creeks or rivers on vacation?
  • If you do, then you may be exposed to riverine type flooding.

Riverine Flooding

Riverine Flooding occurs when rivers, streams and lakes overflow their banks. This includes flooding caused by levee failure and channel erosion. Areas adjacent to local streams and creeks can also experience flooding as a result of excessive runoff from heavy rainfall and accumulation of water flowing over broad flat areas. Of particular concern in California are the deep floodplains of the Central Valley, which are subject to periodic riverine flooding. Riverine flooding can be widespread, with floodwaters persisting for several hours to days, weeks or more.

Impact

Riverine flooding usually allows time for communities to take measures to protect life and property. The dangers from riverine flooding likely involve inundated structures and roadways, and electrical shock from downed power lines. In January 1997, riverine flooding in the Central Valley damaged more than 23,000 homes and businesses; destroyed many thousands of acres of agriculture lands, roads, bridges, and flood management structures; and nine people died. In 2006, flood damage to the City of Napa and surrounding communities totaled approximately $115 million dollars; 1,200 homes and 250 businesses were damaged.

Coastal Flooding and Tsunami Dangers

  • Do you live work or vacation along the California coast?
  • Do you know the risk of tsunamis in California is real?
  • Know your risk, know your role and take action to reduce your risk.

Coastal Flooding

Storms can cause flooding through a process known as “storm surges,” which is when ocean waves are significantly larger than normal. If a storm event corresponds with a higher than normal tide, extensive flooding can occur. Winds blowing in an onshore direction (from the sea toward the land) can cause the water to “pile up” against the coast, overtopping natural and manmade flood protection structures like sea walls. Coastal communities, especially low-lying stretches of Southern California, are highly susceptible to this hazard.

Tsunami Dangers

Although many people think of a tsunami as a single, breaking wave, it typically consists of multiple waves that rush ashore like a fast-rising tide with powerful currents. Tsunamis can travel much farther inland than normal waves. Tsunamis are triggered by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, underwater landslides and onshore landslides in which large volumes of debris fall into the water. All of these triggers can affect California. Some come from across the globe; for example, the March 2011 earthquake in Japan brought an 8-foot wave into Crescent City harbor, destroying much of the harbor. Some of these triggers happen close to our coastline. If a tsunami-causing disturbance occurs close to the coastline, a resulting tsunami can reach coastal communities within minutes. Coastal communities, especially low-lying stretches of northern California are highly susceptible to this hazard.

Impact

The impact from coastal flooding by either storm surges or a tsunami can be devastating. More than 600,000 Californians live within a quarter of a mile of the coast. In addition to the significant number of people at risk of coastal flooding and tsunamis, coastal urban centers provide considerable support for California’s economy.

Lives, homes, businesses and infrastructure like roads, railways and industrial areas are all at risk of coastal flooding, with massive potential for social and economic loses. In 2006, a tsunami caused approximately $20 million dollars in damage to Crescent City harbor. The repairs were not yet completed when the March 2011 tsunami caused approximately $12.5 million dollars in additional damages to the harbor.

Flash Flooding

  • What is a flash flood?
  • How can you avoid getting caught in a flash flood?
  • Is it safe to drive through a flooded street?
  • Know your risk, know your role and take action to reduce your risk.

Flash Flooding

Flash floods are the number one weather-related killer in the U.S. because they can roll boulders, tear out trees, and destroy buildings and bridges quickly. A flash flood is a sudden, rapid flooding of low-lying areas typically caused by intense rainfall. Flash floods can also occur from the collapse of a man-made structure or ice dam. Rapidly rising water can reach heights of 30 feet or more. Although floods can occur throughout the year, California’s rainy season usually lasts from November to April. This is when the chance of heavy flooding and flash flood risks is greatest.

Impact

Flash flooding is particularly dangerous because people attempt to drive through rushing water or down a flooded road. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling. It only takes two feet of water to lift a car or SUV and once a vehicle becomes buoyant, the water can easily push it sideways or roll it over, trapping those inside and washing them downstream. Drivers should remember this simple saying: “Turn Around – Don’t Drown,”™ and practice safe driving during flood events.

On August 15, 2004, flooding destroyed several miles of roadway along Highway 190 and Route 127 in Death Valley, resulting in the death of two people and an estimated $20 million in damages. Flash flooding causes more than $2 billion in property damage each year in the U.S.

Localized Flooding

  • Do you live in or visit urbanized areas?
  • If so, you probably have experienced, or will experience, stormwater flooding.
  • Know your risk, know your role and take action to reduce your risk.

Stormwater Flooding

Localized flooding occurs in both urban and nonurban areas during or after a storm. Any storm, particularly slow-moving, steady rain storms, can overwhelm drainage systems. When the system backs up, pooling water can flood streets, yards and even the lower floors of homes and businesses. Even less intense storms can cause this type of flooding when leaves, sediment and debris plug storm drains.

Localized flooding poses most of the same problems caused by larger floods, but typically impacts fewer people and affects geographically smaller areas. Flooding of this type tends to recur year after year. The aftermath can mean costly damage to homes and property. In many cases, stormwater flooding can easily be avoided by keeping storm drains clear of debris, so the stormwater system can function properly.

Impact

Stormwater flooding frequently causes property damage and traffic congestion. Keeping storm drains clear of leaves and debris so the system can perform its task is the responsibility of residents and business owners.