It was a full house at Poinsettia Pavilion on Feb. 3 as Ventura County residents who were impacted by the Thomas Fire obtained information during the city of Ventura and County of Ventura’s Flood/Mud Preparedness Event.

Presentations were given by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services and public works agencies, discussing effective evacuation policies and how residents can keep their homes and property safe from potential mud and debris flows, especially for those who live below or near the fire-damaged burn areas, hillsides, creeks and storm drains, and preparedness measures such as sandbagging and wattles.

Residents also had the opportunity to browse a vendor product expo and speak with contractors and consultants who specialize in erosion protection. Maps were also displayed showing potential risk areas along with hydrologists, geologists and flood mitigation experts to answer questions.

Kevin McGowan, assistant director of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services, explained that when rain works its way into the grains of fine soil, the soaked soil and boulders embedded in it can break free and tumble downhill, causing a debris flow.

“The more water you get, the more erosion you create,” McGowan said.

McGowan said that a half-inch of rainfall per hour has the intensity to cause a potential debris flow.

“This is generally not what we see in Ventura County,” McGowan said. “Make sure your evacuation plans are secure and in place. Do not wait for the government to tell you to leave if you feel concerned. We try and give as much notice as possible, but there’s still a personal responsibility to take action.”

McGowan explained three ways that the community can be prepared ahead of time:
Register for Ventura County Alert. VCAlert.org is free and the No. 1 primary notification tool for hazardous conditions, evacuations and safety information that is sent to cell phones and email addresses.

Prepare a disaster kit. Residents can buy premade kits at local hardware stores or make one themselves. ReadyVenturaCounty.org has a list of FEMA-recommended items.
Keep up with the Ventura County Emergency website. VCEmergency.com provides real time rain information, evacuations and road closures.

“We want to make it through these rainy seasons safely so that our watershed recovers within five years from now,” McGowan said.

Future community meetings can be found at the Ventura County Recovers website.