Bay Area residents urged to prepare for El Nino, get sandbags now

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If El Nino hits with a vengeance, sandbags will be needed. Now is the time to think about your needs, not once the heavy rains start falling. This isn't just the rainy season, this is going to be the sandbag season. And sandbags are not always easy or fast to come by.

Mill Valley knows how to prep for a flood. Sandbags are at the ready on street corners and in alleyways.

At Russ' Barber Shop photos of major floods from the past are hanging on the walls.

"1946 I believe, the middle one there," said barber Yianni Markatos. "And the bottom one there is from the '56 or '57 flood."

Markatos is cutting hair and talking flood predations. He has a plan.

"I will get about 10 of them that I have at my house from last year and strategically place them down there and hope for the best," he said.

Keeping sandbags from one year to the next is a great idea. But if you don't have any or need more, sandbag stations like one in Alameda, are popping up all over the Bay Area.

"As long as they have a driver's license or a local power bill from Alameda Municipal Power, we will give them five sandbags as a courtesy to get started in their preparations for the winter here to come," said Max Arbios with Alameda Public Works.

Some governments will give you more, others less but all will need to see your ID, so don't forget it.

Depending on where you live and if you are able, you may be asked to fill your own bags or to help others.

And one final note -- in Alameda once it starts raining, the sandbag station closes for the day. So getting ready early is essential.

"I was told by the city of Alameda that there was a free sandbag giveaway and that's why I am here," said Alameda resident Ron Louie.

When asked if he's had problems with flooding at his house before Louie said, "Not yet. I am trying to take preventative measures so I won't get a big mess on my hand and have to call you and say, 'What do I do?'"

For a comprehensive list of where counties are offering sandbags and how many you are allowed to pick up, click here.
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