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Officials warn of winter flood risks

Kelly Sikkema

As winter rains approach, the risk of flooding is increasing in California and Oregon. 

During a time when many counties in the region are recovering from wildfires, the rainy season brings the possibility of flooding. When heavy rains hit the burn scars from these wildfires, the risk for debris flow from eroding hillsides increases.

“Mendocino, Trinity County, where they’ve got some of those larger burn scars from the August Complex last year, or the Monument or McCash fires, those would present a higher risk for those debris flows if precipitation comes in heavy and fast,” says Ryan Derby from Humboldt County emergency services.

The highest risk for flooding is between November and March and houses located in basins or near waterways are at a higher risk. Derby says that buying flood insurance is just one of the ways that residents can stay safe.

“One thing that I always push when we talk about emergency preparedness or emergency management is registering for our county alert system, Humboldt Alert. And that’s our way of notifying the public of pending emergencies if there’s something coming.”

Residents can sign up for most county alert systems on the county's website.

In Oregon, Jackson county is urging anybody building near a waterway to check with the county’s planning division. The county is also recommending that residents use sandbags to guide water away from their home in the event of a flood.

Sophia Prince is a reporter and producer for JPR News. She began as JPR’s 2021 summer intern through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism and international studies.