Fall, Rain, El Niño, Sandbags!

OK, so not only are weather forecasters predicting the chance of showers next week, we’re also heading into our much-anticipated El Niño season — which could mean a lot more rainfall than we’ve seen for a long time.

That means this could be a great time to pick up some free sandbags to help you prepare. As it has for several years, the County of San Diego is offering free sand and bags to residents in unincorporated communities — but now at more places than ever before.

The County has added six new fire stations to its list, meaning residents can get sand and bags at 15 locations. More locations are scheduled to be added in the coming weeks. Visit the County’s El Niño page for a current list of sandbag locations.

Just bring a shovel and you’ll be good to go. Because the entire state has been dealing with a historic drought, the increased rains that El Niño is expected to bring could also mean increased risks of flooding and soil erosion — especially in places that are not covered by lawns, trees, shrubs and plants.

Water runoff, mud and debris that are swept downstream by rains can damage homes, clog storm drains and culverts and flood and damage roadways. If people have slopes on their properties, they can use mulch or terrace the slopes and plant groundcovers and shrubs to keep them from eroding.

As potential El Niño rains approach, the County has put together numerous recommendations for how people can prepare, including: looking around their properties to see if they are in flood-prone areas or near a hillsides with little or dead vegetation that could allow erosion; checking the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s resources at People can also check our “How to Be El Niño Ready” story on the County News Center.

For more information, check the County Department of Public Works’ Storm and Road Events update Web page; the County Office of Emergency Services Flooding Preparedness Facts and Resource Web page; and

 (Editor’s Note: This article previously contained a list of sandbag locations. Because the list has since been expanded and may continue to be revised, you’re asked to visit the County’s El Nino page for updated sandbag locations.)  


Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact