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The Emergency Management Department is responsible for preparing the City of Ontario to respond to and recover from emergency situations through education, training, exercises, and planning. Emergency Management is also responsible for the development and implementation of many different preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation plans and procedures.

Ontario promotes a prepared, disaster-resilient community.

Visit the City of Ontario's Emergency Management Page


El Nino

What is “El Niño”?

El Niño is a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns. During an El Niño pattern, the ocean currents in the tropical Pacific Ocean warm up, and the warmer water increases the amount of moisture in the air and affects weather. When there is an active El Niño pattern, there is an above normal chance of very heavy rains along the Pacific coast of California. These rains, if they develop, can result in small urban streams and washes overrunning their banks as well as regional and large scale flooding.

The El Niño forecast for 2015 is expected to be one of the strongest on record, according to Mike Halpert, the deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There are predictions it could bring as much as 35 inches of rain during the upcoming winter season in some part of California. "Confidence continues to grow that this El Niño will be one of the strongest we have experienced over the past 50 years, and California will be much more active weather-wise this winter than last winter," according to Accuweather Meteorologists.

No Need To Panic, But You Need To Take Action

The time to get prepared is NOW! The more prepared you are before El Niño arrives the better you and your home can withstand this winter’s El Niño storms, and getting prepared is simple: inspect your home, take the proper actions, and have the right tools right tools on hand. Once the rain starts falling is not the time to go to the hardware store for your supplies.

Actions To Take

Inspect Your Home

Start with the roof, making sure it is clear of leaves and debris that can cause water to puddle. Look for loose or missing shingles, and secure or replace them. Check for roof leaks by looking for water spots or yellowish discolored paint on ceilings inside, and repair any leaks you find. Check for gaps or loose flashing around chimneys and other roof intrusions. Repair trouble spots with roof patch and leak seal materials.

If your roof has gutters, clean them out. Make sure they work and keep them clear during the storm. An inch of rain adds up to 600 gallons per 1,000 square feet of roof, so consider installing removable downspout adapters and flexible drain coils to the gutter’s downspouts to direct water away from your home’s foundation. You can also redirect rainwater into a rain barrel or collection system for future use.

Check around your doors and windows, repairing any bad or missing weather-stripping and leaks to keep the rain outside. Caulking also helps keep heat indoors and cold, wet weather out.

Know the locations of your gas and water shut-off valves. Shut-off tools, available at home centers and hardware stores, attach to your systems in case of an emergency and are easy to use.

Keep waterproof tarps, with enough rope to secure them in place, and buckets on hand. Buckets should be your last resort for leaks, but they sure are handy when you need them.

Most homeowners’ insurance policies don’t cover flooding. If you think your home is at risk of flooding this winter, now is the time to buy flood insurance. Policies take 30 days to go into effect, and policies that cover building and contents cost less than $500 a year. The government's floodsmart website includes information about flood insurance and links to insurance agents.

Residents can also identify their flood risk by entering their addresses at the government’s floodsmart website.

Inspect Your Yard

Determine your trouble spots. Water will collect in low spots, and you don’t want water to collect around your foundation which can lead to flooding. Sandbags are a fast way to redirect water, with each layer of sandbags providing 3 to 4 inches of added flood protection. Have sandbags ready, and set in place, to keep water from entering your home or garage before it starts raining. When stacking sandbags, use an overlapping pattern like brickwork. You can get sandbags from Ontario Fire Department fire stations, and sand from several city locations.

Provide erosion control to keep soil in place – especially on slopes – and protect your garden or new landscapes. Cover any bare spots (such as the spot where that lawn used to be) with a burlap cover and make use of any fallen leaves by using them as mulch around plants to keep soil from flowing away.

Keep an eye on trees. Besides dropping leaves, they may drop limbs – especially if those trees have been weakened by drought. Consult an arborist and evaluate trees before storms hit. A chainsaw is a handy tool to have on hand in case any large branches fall during the storm.

Keep your yard’s drainage clear of leaves and debris before the rains get here. Also, re-inspect it and ensure it is kept clear throughout any storms.

Make An Emergency Kit

Create a basic family emergency kit that includes a 3 day supply of food and water (1 gallon per person per day) for each member of the household. Also include a first aid kit, a flashlight, lantern, glow sticks, battery-powered radio, batteries and other supplies.

Don’t forget to plan for your pets. You’ll need emergency food and water for them as well. Use a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with a bag of dry food or canned food, bottled water, a leash, a blanket, and a toy.

Store big bags of ice in the freezer that can keep your freezer contents colder, longer, in the event of a power outage. Ice bags can be transferred to the refrigerator or ice chests to keep food cold, and when the ice melts it provides more drinking water.

Have rain gear handy, and this means more than just an umbrella. You’ll need rubber boots, plastic rain suits, or rainproof ponchos to keep you dry if performing inspections of your home or if you need to respond to outdoor emergencies.

Related Storm Links

Links to find additional information regarding the weather, El Niño, traffic and utilities status, how to prepare, and how to keep yourself safe.

El Niño Portal – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

El Niño Graphics/Animations – NOAA

El Niño Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

San Bernardino County Weather – National Weather Service

SB County Rainfall Data Report – SB County Flood Control District

SB County Flood Warning System – SB County Flood Control District

SB County Road Closures – San Bernardino County, Dept. of Public Works

Preparing For A Flood – San Bernardino County, Dept. of Public Health

What To Do In Case Of A Flood – San Bernardino County, Dept. of Public Health

Report Road Or Flood Problems – San Bernardino County, Dept. of Public Works

Landslide Safety Tips – American Red Cross

Safety In A Power Outage – Be Prepared California

Outage Center – Southern California Edison

Highway Conditions – Caltrans

“Turn Around, Don’t Drown” – YouTube Video


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Last updated: 10/21/2015 3:03:14 PM