How to Fight Flooding at Home

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Here are ways to keep water out of your home and instructions for filling sandbags and building a barrier from the California Department of Water Resources and the California Conservation Corps.

EASY Ways to Keep Water Out of Your House:
During the times of heavy rains, most damage to homes and property comes from flooded streets, particularly those with blocked drains.  Be sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris.  Low curbs and sloping driveways also pose a problem.

Your home can be protected by directing the water flow.  Sandbag walls can be used to divert water or mud.  Place the sandbag walls so they channel the water to a clear drain or gutter.

HOW TO: Fill a Sandbag and Build a Sandbag Barrier

A. Work with another person, with one of you holding the bag while the other shovels sand or other material.  The first shovelful is placed on the edge of the bag to keep the bag open.  The bag holder should bend at the waist, with elbows resting on knees.  The shoveler gets rounded scoops of sand and fills the bag to just one-third full.  Avoid injury by not twisting while shoveling.

B. Fold over the open end of the bag in a triangle to prevent sand from leaking out.  Close-knit burlap bags are recommended.

C. Place a line of bags with the folded side up, with folded edges facing the direction of water flow.  Stomp each bag into place.  Like you would bricks, stagger the next layer of bags over the folded tops of the bags underneath.  Stop each layer of bags.  To give the structure stability, the base should be 1.5 times wider than the height (Example, 6 ft. wide by 4 ft. high).

D. When you don't have time to build a sandbag barrier, use a temporary levee to raise low areas.  Prepare ahead by buying 20-foot-wide sheets of plastic (6-10 mil thickness).  Lay out the length you need and place sand, dirt, or gravel on the half facing your property.  Fold over the other half and place a solid row of sandbags on the edge of the plastic to anchor the top edge of the plastic sheet. 

E.  In locations where water could rise with no current, such as at lake shores, lay visquine plastic on the ground up to walls, and form a half pyramid of sandbags.  Cover doors and vents with plywood.

For an illustrated instruction sheet, click here or go to the California Department of Water Resources web site.

Community Sandbag Program: The Amador County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services reminds residents of the Community Sandbag Program.  The County will provide sand and sandbags to all county residents on a self- serve basis for localized flooding emergencies.  A pile of sand and bags are located near the County General Services Administration Building in the Airport parking lot in Martell.  All residents need to do is bring a shovel to fill the sandbags.  The sand and bags are there for unplanned emergencies.

In addition to the County program, the Cities of Ione, Jackson, and Sutter Creek are offering a similar program to their residents. Contact your city hall for more information.

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