Preparing for El Nino and Winter Storms

Weather experts are very confident that our region will experience a wet and stormy winter due to the presence and size of the El Nino weather conditions present in the Pacific Ocean. The El Nino condition changes the regions winter storm weather patterns. Exactly what that means for La Habra is not known today, but weather scientists predict it is likely that we will receive more rain than "normal". When, where, how much, and at what rate the rain will fall is not known today, however better estimates and information will be provided as storms approach our area. In past years, La Habra has experienced a variety of winter weather problems including roadway flooding, hillside slope failures, mud and debris flows, clogged storm drains, collapsed ceilings, power outages, traffic signal outages, downed trees and tree limbs.

Are You Prepared? 

La Habra residents are urged to begin to prepare now, and maintain their preparedness efforts throughout the winter rain season. Don't wait until the storms arrive and it is too late to protect yourself, your family and your property. Here are some preparedness steps that you should consider.

Before it Rains

Be attentive to Weather Information, Warnings and Emergency Notifications

Pay attention to winter weather storm information and predictions. While they may not always be correct, they are accurate more times than not. Take the time to monitor local media reports and consider adding a weather information app to your cell phone.

If you haven't already done so, sign up with AlertOC, at our La Habra and Orange County emergency notification system. This important step will help to insure that you receive emergency notifications from the City via your land-line phone, cell phone and other communication devices (SMS text messages, email, and several popular social media networks).

Protect your Home or Business

Conduct a survey of your residence or business to identify any potential problems. Start at the top and work your way down to the ground, and then out into the street or storm channel. You want to assure that rainwater flows from your property out into the existing drainage systems.

  • Inspect your roof for gaps, missing shingles, broken tiles etc. This inspection is especially important if your home or business sustained any damage as a result of the March 2014, La Habra Earthquake. If issues are found, get them fixed or covered.
  • If you have a flat roof, clear away and remove all debris so that water can get to the drain outlets without pooling. Clogged drain outlets can result in pooling and roof/ceiling collapses.
  •  If you have rain gutters and downspouts, make sure that they are clean and clear so that the rainwater flow through them with minimal disruption.
  • If you have vulnerable slopes, consider protecting them with plastic sheeting to prevent slope failures and ground movement.
  • -If you recently re-configured your landscaping (for example a drought related turf removal project), make sure that rainwater will continue to drain away from structures and towards drainage systems.
  • Fill in any low spots adjacent to your structures so that water can't pool and seep into your buildings.
  • If you have a landscape drainage system in place, test it before the storms arrive, clear the area of leaves and debris to prevent these drains from clogging and pooling ground water.
  • Store any items (toys, tools, outside furniture, yard decorations etc.) that might be moved by wind or rain that could create drainage issues.
  • Prevent pollution runoff into streets and storm drains by collecting any trash or landscape clippings from your property, and place them into their designated disposal containers for pick-up.
  • Please remove your trash cans from the street on your trash pick-up day as soon as possible after pick up. Empty trash containers left at the curb can be washed away and cause traffic problems or restrict storm drains and water flow.
  • If needed, obtain protection supplies and equipment before the storm season arrives. La Habra's home improvement stores, hardware stores and larger merchandise stores will stock storm related items and supplies such as roofing repair supplies, rain gutter fixtures, plastic sheeting, tarps, submersible pumps, and plywood.
  • Consider the purchase of flood insurance. Most homeowner's policies will not protect you from "outside-in" water related damages. Flood insurance is the best way to protect your property and family from flood related damage.
  • Should water or mud damage occur on your property, the owner should contact the insurance company for referrals to approved remediation services. Should you need assistance with clean-up or accomplishing the above tasks, check with the La Habra Area Chamber of Commerce, local home improvement stores, or hardware stores, for lists of local contractors that can assist you. Some stores can even assist you in making the necessary labor and materials arrangements, price negotiation, guarantee the service, and allow you to pay for both materials and labor via credit card.


The City of La Habra will attempt to maintain a supply of free sandbags (empty, so bring a shovel) and sand for the needs of La Habra residents and businesses. Please limit the number of sandbags you use to your immediate needs so that there are adequate supplies for others in need. These sandbags can be found at the following locations. Bring your own shovel to fill the sandbags:

  • La Habra Public Works Yard, 621 W. Lambert Road (available during normal business hours, enter via Mountain View Avenue).
  • LACOFD Fire Station 192, 520 S. Harbor Boulevard (No access if LACOFD staff is out of the station).
  • LACOFD Fire Station 193, 1000 W. Risner Way. The sand and sandbags are located in the rear parking area and accessible 24-7.

Additional information about using sandbags (Sandbagging 101) is XXX

Additionally, both of La Habra's large home improvement stores will have supplies of filled sand bags, as well as sand bags and sand available for sale. Contact these stores regarding their supplies and prices.

Family Planning

Have a family emergency preparedness plan that includes evacuation and relocation, essential supplies, and communication plans. This planning effort could also be useful in other emergency situations.

  • Make these plans now before the storms arrive.
  • Discuss your plans with the family at dinner time to make sure that they know what to do and when to do it!
  • Establish phone lists so that they are readily available if needed. Include schools, family and relatives, caretakers, important business contacts.
  • Make copies of important documents in case your home or office is flooded.
  • Take steps to be prepared in the event you become stranded in your car or truck.
  • Store walking shoes, a jacket, a hat, an umbrella and rain gear or poncho.
  • Store some water or other fluids and energy bars.
  • Consider the purchase of a car-cell phone charger in case you are stuck in traffic and confined to your vehicle for an extended time.

For more information about creating a family emergency plan visit Ready Orange County,, or Red Cross.

During Winter Storms

Every year people are injured or killed during winter storms. While we may not be able to completely alter or lives to avoid storm-related issues, consider the following:

  • Check your windshield wipers and tires before the winter storms arrive, replace if necessary.
  • Maintain your fuel supply. Fill your gas tank when it drops to half full.
  • Minimize your driving during heavy downpours. These events can result in flooded streets and traffic signal issues which often result in traffic congestion and increase the likelihood of traffic collisions.
  • If traveling, check on travel conditions before leaving.
  • Monitor current weather conditions via radio and television media, software apps or social media.
  • Do not walk or drive through moving water or flooded areas.
  • Do not sightsee or enter restricted areas.
  • If trapped by rising water, attempt to get to higher ground.
  • Check your property for leaks, and pooling water adjacent to your structure, for potential flood related problems.
  • Clear any debris build-ups so that rainwater will continue to drain away from your structures.
  • Should you encounter downed wires, stay away from them and call 911.
  • If there is an emergency, call 911.