Bay Area, state agencies prepare in wake of dire El Nino warning

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Government scientists say El Nino "could potentially be the strongest in recorded history" and "will peak in next 30 days."

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Some of those potential dangers include floods, mudslides, and power outages. And with the start of the winter season just around the corner, many are now feeling even more pressure to prepare.

At a Santa Clara Valley Water District facility, community members on Wednesday dropped by to pick up their supply of sandbags.

"People can go and fill their own sandbags, we've got available bags and loose sand for them to prepare that," said Gina Adriano with the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

With El Nino expected to get stronger in the next few months, water district officials say now isn't the time to take any chances.

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Crews were at Vasona Dam in Los Gatos Wednesday, removing sediment and vegetation.

"These things can obstruct the flow of water," said Adriano. "So throughout the summer, even before the rains, our crews have been out there making sure that we're ready for this El Nino."

In Sacramento, the Federal Emergency Management Agency laid out a response plan for local and state officials to follow if El Nino leads to major problems, including the creation of a central hub for crisis management and guidelines for coordinating search, rescue and evacuation orders.

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"Flooding is still the number one natural disaster that causes the most damage across the United States and the most deaths each year with 30 percent of that damage coming in areas not anticipated," said Robert Fenton with FEMA.

In fact, state officials say $75 billion dollars' worth of buildings and other structures are at risk of flood damage in California.

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"We see this coming," said Mark Ghilarducci with the Governor's Office of Emergency Services. "There should be no reason why we don't do everything we can to ensure that our local governments are prepared, the public is informed, our state and federal partners collaborate together so that we are as ready possible when it starts to rain."

A proactive approach, as we all brace for wet conditions this winter.

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