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Storm moves in: Placer County offers pointers to get through the worst of it

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn area held up well Monday under the first of a series of heavy rain and wind storms expected to roar through the foothills this week. The rain started coming down in sheets by mid-morning Monday in most areas in and around the city after steady rain through the night. While the storm turned open drains into small torrents of muddy water and increased stream levels at the Auburn School Park Preserve, no major flooding was reported. With the looming threat of high winds and heavy rains causing everything from power outages to localized flooding to transportation problems, Placer County was advising area residents Monday to be prepared to cope with potential major challenges. The key advice from the county is that every family and home should be prepared to handle a local emergency and have the resources to survive at least three days without services. From homes along the valley floor to the crest of the Sierra, Placer County sees its share of strong winter storms, said Rui Cunha, county Office of Emergency Services program manager said. “We should expect and prepare for them,” Cunha said. “Storms sometimes bring heavy snow, significant power outages, high winds, downed trees, localized stream flooding, back-country avalanches and other challenges.” While the effect of any one storm can be hard to forecast, it’s important to be ready for whatever happens, Cunha said. A major component of being prepared is staying well-informed. They suggest turning on the radio or TV news for storm and emergency information, instruction for warnings. If a regional emergency develops and the county Office of Emergency Services is involved, news media will be notified and staff will be available to provide information. It’s also good to have a battery-operated TV or radio on hand. Print media Web sites such as Auburnjournal.com are another source of information. The Office of Emergency Services also advises those in emergencies to check on neighbors or family members who may need assistance, especially if they are elderly or disabled. Winterizing vehicles is another important safety step. The county recommends keeping a half a tank of gas in the car, good tires and tools handy such as a shovel or scraper. Blankets should be stored inside the vehicle and if you’re driving in the elements, have plenty of warm clothing, food and water in case you’re stopped by the side of the road for a long time. Pets are another consideration. Plan ahead of time how to handle pets, the county states, including having ample supplies of food and water. Water is important for people too. People should buy and store an extra supply of drinking water, with a recommended gallon a day per person a good benchmark. On the food front, families should have a three-day supply of ready-to-eat nonperishable foods, a can opener, matches, knife, foil and plastic bags. For Auburn residents like Donna Pakan, who lives near the Downtown area, Monday’s storm was heavy enough to keep her indoors but passed without incident. From Sunday to Monday morning, Pakan measured close to an inch of rain. That was before the mid-morning deluge that continued unabated through mid-afternoon. “It’s a pretty heavy rain,” Pakan said. And forecasters at the National Weather Service are predicting it’s just the beginning.