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County Administrator's Office

For Immediate Release

Preparing for Rain After Wildfires

Santa Rosa,CA | October 08, 2020

En español

The City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma encourage residents living in and around wildfire burn areas to prepare for the rainy season. Preparing now, for future winter storms, is important for your safety and the protection of our watershed. Residents living in and around burn areas should be aware of potential threats and take measures to prepare property for the rainy season. Many properties within and downstream of any burn area are at higher risk for flash floods, rock falls, debris flows, and mud flows.

The City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma are working together collaboratively with state and federal agencies and with local environmental nonprofit groups, to assess and reduce the risk of flooding and to prevent fire-related debris, pollutants and sediment from being carried into storm drains, creeks and the Russian River. In high risk areas, the City and County are installing post-fire hazard signs to alert residents and visitors to these potential hazards.

Residents Living in Burn Areas at Higher Risk of Flash Flooding and Mud and Debris Flows

Residents who live in burned areas, or downhill of burned areas, should be aware of the potential for flash floods and mud and debris flows. It is important to remain alert to possible threats and be prepared to go if you receive an emergency alert or warning for your zone.

Please review the following safety information for properties located in the burn area.

Be Prepared to Go

  • Pack emergency supply bags and identify what you’d want to save in an emergency. Consider the 6 P’s: People and Pets, important Papers, Prescriptions, Pictures, Personal Computers, and Plastic/Paper money.
  • Create an evacuation plan and include two possible evacuation routes. Santa Rosa residents are encouraged to visit

Maintain Awareness of Potential Hazards

  • Flash Flooding: Normally, rainfall is absorbed by vegetation and soils, reducing runoff. However, wildfires remove vegetation and may leave soil unable to absorb water, creating potential flash flood conditions. Flood risk remains significantly higher until vegetation is restored—up to 5 years after a wildfire.
  • Mud and Debris Flows: Debris and ash, along with other sediments, can be picked up in flood waters and form mud and debris flows.
  • Report flooding or mud and debris flows by calling 9-1-1.

Know Your Alerts

  • Wireless Emergency Alerts: Always keep your phone on, with the ringer on, to receive alerts from the National Weather Service.
  • SoCoAlert: Sign up to receive emergency notifications at SoCoAlert will be used to send an emergency notification if there is an imminent threat to life or property.
  • In areas with limited cell service, or in areas that may experience power outages, have a battery powered weather emergency radio on hand to receive critical messages from the National Weather Service.

Property Owners in Fire Impacted Zones Need to Prepare for Rain

It is the property owner’s responsibility to prevent pollutants, including sediment, from entering storm drains, creeks, rivers and wetlands. Property owners should take the following steps:

  • Prevent pollution and runoff from your property by properly installing erosion control techniques, such as installing straw wattles and gravel bags, and remove debris near creeks, storm drains and drainageways on your property.
  • Proper installation and maintenance of erosion control methods is critical. Materials should be installed or replaced prior to the onset of the rainy season and inspected periodically.
  • Ensure that any drainage features, such as gutters, catch basins, storm inlets, culverts, or swales on your parcel are functioning and are clear of leaves, sticks, or other debris.
  • The County of Sonoma is working with Russian Riverkeeper, Sonoma Ecology Center, and Community Soil Foundation, along with Sonoma RCD, to provide the technical assistance and installation for high priority properties.
  • For additional erosion control information and resources:

To learn more about emergency preparedness, including information about preparing your property for rain, Santa Rosa residents visit and Sonoma County residents visit