Cal OES Prepositions Search and Rescue Teams, Water Protective Measures, Near Fire Burn Scars in Preparation of Flooding



With potential for heavy rainfall and flooding in the northern part of the state, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has strategically prepositioned critical resources including swift water rescue teams and water protective measures to respond to any threats near recent burn scar areas.

Prepositioned swift water rescue teams in Sacramento County include:

  • Cal OES Type 1 Swiftwater/Flood Search and Rescue Team, 16 members, (Sacramento City FD)
  • Cal OES Urban Search and Rescue, Regional Task Force 1, 30 members (Marin County FD)

In addition, Cal OES is working closely with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and California Conservation Corps (CCC) to prevent toxic runoff found in wildfire ash and debris from entering waterways. CCC crews are working to install straw wattles, compost socks, and silt fence around burned structures to act as physical filtration barriers.

Types of Watershed Protection Measures

  • Straw wattles are burlap tubes of compressed straw. They provide perimeter protection along contours or at the base of slopes, inlets, and roadways to reduce soil erosion and runoff, and retain sediment. Straw wattles are also used to intercept water running down a slope. You can use wattles over bare soil or in conjunction with erosion control blankets, on steep slopes, around drains for inlet protection, or as a perimeter control for job sites. Straw wattles are weed-free and help stabilize slopes by slowing, spreading, and filtering overland water flow. They are flexible and conform to the soil surface.
  • Compost socks are a type of contained compost filter berm. The filter sock is typically a mesh tube filled with composted material that is placed perpendicular to the direction of sheet flow to control erosion and retain sediment in disturbed areas. A compost filter sock has an oval or round cross-section and provides a three-dimensional filter to retain sediment and other pollutants (e.g., suspended solids, nutrients, metals, and motor oil) and allow clean water to flow through.
  • Silt Fences are made of a filter fabric that has been entrenched, attached to supporting poles, and sometimes backed by a plastic or wire mesh for support. The silt fence detains sediment-laden water, promoting sedimentation behind the fence.

The public is urged to be prepared and alert for potential flooding and mudslides in areas recently burned by wildfires. A debris flow can take homes off their foundations and carry items such as vegetation, large boulders, and cars. If you live near or downslope of burn areas, you should have a plan to quickly evacuate your community if flash flooding or a mudslide were to happen. Learn more about being flood preparedness here.

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