FAQ: Fire Burn Areas

FAQ - Fire burn areas

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The following frequently asked questions are relevant to those residents living in the Calgrove Fire and Sand Fire Burn Areas that may be susceptible to mud flows during heavy rains.

Information and Alerts
How will I get official information?
How can I get emergency alerts relating to possible flood/debris flows?

Evacuations
What is the Color Alert System (Green, Yellow, Orange & Red)?
Who issues the Color alert system?
How does Unified Command determine if an evacuation order is necessary?
Who is responsible for issuing evacuation orders?
Why do I have to evacuate, but my neighbors don’t?
Do I have to evacuate every time it rains?
How do I know an evacuation order has been issued?
How long do the evacuation orders last?
Where do I evacuate?
How do I find out when an evacuation order has been lifted?

Special Needs and Requests
Can I have pets at the Evacuation Center?
What if I or my neighbors have physical limitations that make leaving difficult?
How can I obtain proof of evacuation orders for my insurance company?

Safety Notes:
I’ve been contacted by a reporter who has offered to check on my home while I’m evacuated, is it safe to give them my information?
What if I see something that I believe the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station should know?

Parking & Access Restrictions
Why can’t I park my vehicle on the street during heavy rain under the Yellow, Orange or Red alerts?
Can I go back to my home to retrieve items I may have forgotten?

Mitigation Measures
Will the City assist me in protecting my home from flood/debris flow?
Do I need sandbags?
Where can I buy sandbags?
What if I don’t have a flood insurance policy?
What should I do with important documents?
Why are the K-rails being used and when will they be removed?

After the Storm
My home was damaged or lost; what do I need to rebuild?

Miscellaneous Questions
If I have a question who can I ask?


Information & Alerts

How will I get official information?

Residents of the City of Santa Clarita and those in neighboring communities can subscribe to receive emergency notifications via email or text message by filling out an online form or by texting SCEMERGENCY to 888777.

Get Prepared

Updates from the City can be found at the following online resources:
readyforrain-emergencyupdatesbox    readyforrain-facebookbox    readyforrain-twitterbox

How can I get emergency alerts relating to possible flood/debris flows?

Please understand that weather forecasts are not absolute predictions of rain due to the foothills and other meteorological conditions in and around the Santa Clarita area, so you still need to monitor your surroundings.
Flooding/debris flows happen very quickly and public safety personnel may not have time to physically alert you to evacuation orders. Signing up for alerts will afford you additional time to get yourself and loved ones to safety.


Evacuations

What is the Color Alert System (Green, Yellow, Orange & Red)?

The Color Alert System is relevant to the residents and property owners that have been or are at risk of being impacted as a result of the Calgrove Fire or Sand Fire and its aftermath. The four Color Alert System alerts the residents of the evacuation status. Read more details on what each color stands for.

Who issues the Color alert system?

The activation of any color alert is issued by the Unified Command which during a severe weather emergency is typically made up of representatives from various agencies who are responsible for responding to emergencies including the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles County Public Works, City of Santa Clarita and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. These agencies work together to agree on the best actions to respond to and resolve a crisis.  They will meet on an as-needed basis to exchange information and review news from the Weather Service and Flood Control personnel about pending storms and basin readiness. Their discussions and various other factors will determine which alert color should be established.

The amount of times a color alert may change depends on the information the Unified Command receives. The main goal of the Unified Command is to protect life and property. We urge you to please stay informed and follow instructions under the four-color alert system.

How does Unified Command determine if an evacuation order is necessary?

An evacuation order will be issued if Unified Command believes there is risk for a mud and debris flow that will put lives in danger. Several variables are carefully evaluated before an evacuation order is implemented.

Who is responsible for issuing evacuation orders?

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will issue evacuation orders and notify residents once evacuations have been ordered.

Why do I have to evacuate, but my neighbors don’t?

Flood and debris flow patterns are analyzed based on the threat to individual properties and the storm. You may be asked to evacuate because the risk to your property is higher. Engineering reports provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and City of Santa Clarita Public Works, provide critical data that determines the risk based upon your homes vulnerability to slope exposure, steepness, drainage patterns and more. Depending upon your home’s location and these variables, the risk to your home and your neighbor’s home may differ.

Do I have to evacuate every time it rains?

No, evacuation orders are not issued every time it rains. Unified Command analyzes each incident separately and the risk factors to determine if an evacuation order is required.

How do I know an evacuation order has been issued?

There are numerous ways you can find out if an evacuation has been ordered for your area.

  • Sign up for Santa Clarita Nixle Alerts to receive free real-time emergency alerts by cell phone and/or email. Simply text SCEMERGENCY or your zip code to 888777.
  • Evacuation information will also be shared on this website, our Santa Clarita Emergency Updates blog at SantaClaritaEmergency.com and on City social media sites (Facebook, Twitter).
  • Reverse emergency 911 calls may sometimes be made on your land line phone with a pre-recorded message.
  • Don’t forget to tune into your local news for additional updates (KHTS AM1220, The Signal, SCV News).
  • If time permits, law enforcement personnel may attempt to go to each affected home and notify occupants in the event that evacuations are being ordered.

How long do the evacuation orders last?

How long an evacuation order will last depends on the severity of the situation our first responders are dealing with.  It is the goal of the Unified Command to allow residents to return to their homes as soon as possible, as long as it is safe to re-enter and does not impair responders who are trying their best to protect lives and property in the impact area. We understand evacuations are inconvenient and sometimes uncomfortable, however please remember our main goal is to protect lives and property. By following these requests, you are helping us protect your loved ones and property.

Where do I evacuate?

As part of your emergency family plan, please decide on a predetermined place (s) to evacuate to, such as a family member or friend’s residence or a hotel. During an evacuation order, a shelter site will be designated for residents who do not have a predetermined evacuation place established.

How do I find out when an evacuation order has been lifted?

You will be notified that an evacuation has been lifted through the same emergency communication channels, such as Santa Clarita Nixle Alerts (sign up by texting SCEMERGENCY to 888777) and messaging on our Santa Clarita City Emergency Updates blog and City social media sites (Facebook, Twitter).


Special Needs and Requests

Can I have pets at the Evacuation Center?

We understand the importance that our pets play in our lives. Only service animals are allowed to be at the evacuation center/shelter site. Residents should make arrangements in advance to have their pets sheltered with friends, relatives or even at a local kennel outside the evacuation area. Have your pet(s) emergency supplies, vaccination documentation, medications if required and carrier ready. The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control will work to assist in sheltering your household pets, if you are unable to arrange a shelter location.

What if I or my neighbors have physical limitations that make leaving difficult?

We want to know of any residents in the Calgrove Fire and Sand Fire Burn Area who are unable to leave their home without assistance. If you need special assistance to evacuate, contact the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s station at (661) 255-1121. Additional needs will be coordinated between the Sheriff and the City of Santa Clarita’s Emergency Operations Center.

How can I obtain proof of evacuation orders for my insurance company?

Contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; they will provide you with appropriate documentation.


Safety Notes

I’ve been contacted by a reporter who has offered to check on my home while I’m evacuated, is it safe to give them my information?

Do not provide your address to a stranger. Scammers have been known to use social media to ask evacuee’s for their address as a ploy to steal things from their home. You can register with the Red Cross at the “Safe and Well” website or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to let your family know you are safe.

What if I see something that I believe the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station should know?

If it is an emergency – immediate danger to persons or property – call 911. If it is not an emergency, call the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station at (661) 255-1121.


Parking & Access Restrictions

Why can’t I park my vehicle on the street during rain storms under the Yellow, Orange or Red alerts?

No parking during orange or red alerts will be in effect on any street within the Calgrove Fire and Sand Fire Burn Area. Vehicles are easily swept downhill by debris and mudflows, cause significant threat to property and lives, restrict access by first responders and prevent heavy equipment from clearing the streets during and after rain events.

Law enforcement agencies are authorized to tow vehicles found to be parked on City streets within the Calgrove Fire and Sand Fire Burn Area under yellow, orange or red alerts. While it is not our goal to tow cars, police will determine if the vehicles are impeding first responders, are a threat to life or property and/are impeding mitigation measures meant to protect property.

Can I go back to my home to retrieve items I may have forgotten?

Under Orange and Red alerts there will be either limited access or no access permitted so that first responders will not be impeded in their critical tasks. In early stages of Orange, only residents with proof of residency and their authorized relatives/contractors/assistance workers will be permitted to enter. That restriction will become tighter as conditions dictate according to law enforcement officials. When a Red alert has been issued, there will be no access back into the Impact area by non-emergency or residents until the all clear has been given by the law enforcement personnel.

While every effort will be made to limit the inconveniences caused by the various alerts, they are in place so that public safety responders can protect lives and property to the best of their ability. It is important for residents to have their important documents either stored in the highest point in the home; offsite or be able to quickly take with them. Residents are strongly encouraged to view the LA County Fire Department link to Ready! Set! Go!


Mitigation Measures

Will the City assist me in protecting my home from flood/debris flow?

Generally, by law, government entities are limited in what they can do on private property. We can provide advice on public safety issues and inspect for compliance.

With our advice or that of a licensed engineer, residents can consider sandbags, installing diversion structures and other structure protection devices. Remember, you cannot divert water or debris from your property into another property under State law. You also cannot undertake work on another person’s property without their permission or consent.

Sandbags are available at fire stations. We can either offer guidance on where to place the sandbags, or you can ask a licensed civil engineer to do so.

If you wish to arrange for an inspection or visit by a city engineer, please call the City of Santa Clarita Building & Safety Division at (661) 255-4935.

Do I need sandbags?

If you are in an area that may be impacted by mudflows down slope from fire burn areas, keep sandbags, plywood, sheeting and lumber available for waterproofing.

Where can I buy sandbags?

In addition to the free sandbags offered by the Fire Station, sandbags can be purchased at your local Lowes and Home Depot store.

What if I don’t have a flood insurance policy?

If you don’t have a flood insurance policy, contact your insurance agent. If you have purchased a policy, review your policy with your agent and ask questions to make sure you have the proper amount of coverage.

What should I do with important documents?

Copy important documents (mortgage papers, deed, passport, bank information, etc.). Keep copies in your home, and have a backup for the documentation on a CD, flash drive, with an online service, and or keep hard copies in a safe deposit box.

Take photos of your possessions (furniture, antiques and collectibles, musical instruments, electronic equipment, etc.). Store copies with your other important documents.

Why are the K-rails being used and when will they be removed?

The concrete structures that are commonly used around construction on freeways or other busy streets to protect workers and property have been placed in strategic areas to help keep flooding/debris flows away from property and direct it to a safer drainage point.  This is a key part in our preparedness effort.

According to local and regional experts, as a result of the Calgrove Fire, the burn area has a potential risk for flooding/debris flow. These k-rails will be in place as long as our community remains in the high risk period so that we can best fulfill our single goal of protecting life and property.

We understand that they are not aesthetically appealing and we will work to keep them free of graffiti and other markings during the time they are being used.  If you notice graffiti or other markings on them, please call (661) 294-2565, or Report Graffiti Through eService.


After the Storm

City officials recommend you conduct an outside perimeter check of your residence prior to entering, be sure doors/windows are free of mud/debris prior to entering. Watch your step outside. Be aware of possible sinkholes that are hard to see in your yard or obstructions such as sprinkler heads or fencing that may be covered over with mud/debris. Be cautious when driving into/out of the Impact Area. You do not want to drive over mud/rocks that may damage your vehicle.

My home was damaged or lost; what do I need to rebuild?

We are sorry that you have experienced such loss. We want to assure you that we will work to expedite your permitting process. It is important to note that you may be subject to different building codes by the State. Building codes are updated every few years by the State based on standards that have been tested to improve safety and protection. Many of the experiences from disasters like the Calgrove Fire and Sand Fire are included in the process of changing and modifying codes so that structures and occupants are better protected at any given time.

Under current codes almost any work on a structure or piece of property requires a permit. The permit process allows the local agency to determine if the plans meet the State’s standards and whether the work being done in the field is following the approved plans. It is important that all work is done by a licensed professional; otherwise the work being done has a high chance of not meeting standards and thus will not be accepted. We do not want you to become a victim again.

We offer the opportunity to meet with you and/or your representatives to help explain the process and follow through that will be needed. We understand that your home is very special to you and your family; we want it to be safe, meeting all regulations so that you can move back to normalcy as quickly as possible. Santa Clarita residents can call the Santa Clarita Building & Safety Division at (661) 255-4935 to ask for an appointment in person.

We highly recommend the following:

  • Only hire licensed individuals. You can verify their license with the Contractors State License Board.
  • Do not let people into your home that report to be soliciting business. You should only allow people that you have called to look at the situation.
  • Do not give money in advance of a project being started. A reputable contractor should not need money up front. In no case should you be asked to front more than 10% of the contract. Contractors will ask for money along the way, but it is usually after they have accomplished certain stages of work.
  • A licensed contractor will have insurance and bonds to protect you in the event of an accident or inability to complete the project.
  • Obtain reference checks on anyone you hire – we recommend at least three references.
  • If a contractor says they can do the work without permit, do not let them. You could be fined the work disallowed and have to pay substantially more in order to fix it to code standards.

If you have questions, please call the Santa Clarita Building & Safety Division at (661) 255-4935.


Miscellaneous Questions

If I have a question who can I ask?

If you have any questions concerning the Calgrove Fire and Sand Fire heavy rain preparedness, you are invited to call the City of Santa Clarita at (661) 259-2489.

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