El Niño: Contra Costa County prepares for the perfect storm

With Monday’s rain storm, we are seeing the effects of El Niño and in Contra Costa County, they are preparing for the worst. Officials laid out plans for rising waters and potential floods.

Many of the recently dry creeks are flowing as storm winds blow. Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Gioia said El Niño may soon deliver an unwanted Christmas present— too much water. 

Gioia said a few things are happening, “King tides on top of the fact that water levels are already higher because of the warming of the water due to El Niño. And if we get storm surges due to extra rain, you have this potential perfect storm.”

The county will be depending on residents to do both their legal obligations and some community service.

“Most of the creeks in Contra Costa County, over 95 percent, are the responsibility of the private homeowner. You need to get out into your own creek and that means removing down trees and dead vegetation,” said County Flood Control Manager Mike Carlson.

In that community spirit, that means cleaning debris from around storm drains and inlets. 

“If you have an inlet in front of your house, we expect you to help us out. We can’t be everywhere at every time. We want you to go and clean the inlets and that can also include trash or whatever else is clogging the inlets,” said Carlson. 

“There are six sandbag filling stations around the county for the residents to access; free of charge at each station. Bring a shovel, bring some gloves.  If you need help, bring somebody who can help you fill and load the sandbags on to your vehicle for you,” said County Maintenance Manager Allison Knapp. 

It’s also suggested to have a family emergency plan in case of flooding.

“Sit down with your families and talk about your plan and educate each other on what needs to get done,” Gioia said. 

Planners say if you see kids messing around near a creek, you need to warn them, get them to stop or at least call 911. It could save a life.