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Keep these online resources handy in case of floods, fires, quakes and other disasters.
Yolo County faces significant flooding risk, particularly the city of West Sacramento, located at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers.
Floods have long been a part of life in Yolo County, with the most recent incidents taking place during the 2022-23 winter storms. Wildfires are also a potential hazard, such as the Cache Fire in 2021 and the LNU Lightning Complex Fire in 2020. Be prepared for the next natural disaster by loading up your smartphone with digital resources that will help you stay informed.
Public safety agencies in Placer, Sacramento, and Yolo counties all share the same community notification system to alert residents about emergency events and other public safety information. The Yolo Alert system shares critical information quickly in a variety of emergencies, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods. But residents must sign up to receive these vital alerts. Information that is provided through the Yolo Alert system will be used only by participating public safety agencies for notification purposes. You can sign up to receive alerts for more than one location—for instance, a work address, or the homes of family members.
Launched in 2007, Nixle provides an “open communication forum” that connects more than 8,000 public safety agencies, municipalities, schools and other entities with members of the public. The notification service delivers texts, email and voice messages, as well as information through social media and the Nixle mobile app. Receive emails and text messages from local fire and law enforcement agencies that include public safety messages as well as emergency information. Text your zip code to 888777 to opt in for text messages or sign up online to receive email or text messages with alerts and advisories. And if you work in a different county, have a second home, or just want to stay apprised of emergency situations that may affect friends and relatives, you can sign up for alerts in other areas.
The Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act established Wireless Emergency Alerts in 2008 and it became operational in 2012. WEA is a national public safety system that allows customers with mobile devices to receive geographically targeted messages about imminent local threats. To activate WEA, make sure your cell phone is set up to accept emergency and public safety alerts. (According to the FCC, “Wireless service customers should check with their wireless service provider to find out if their cell phone or mobile device is WEA-capable. Not all wireless service providers offer WEA.”)
When it comes to getting around in a disaster, California Local offers real-time assistance with our Yolo County Traffic & Transportation overview page. In addition to a highway map marked with incidents and alerts, the page features links to information on Caltrans roadwork, road closures, and transportation services.
Our Yolo County Weather page also has a map that shows locations of fire cameras and water level monitors. And when you click on “Resources,” you get quick links to more than a dozen sites that will provide information on a variety of hazardous situations.
Another source of data is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio alert system. When the radio is properly programmed, the National Weather Service can remotely turn it on and send basic alerts for floods and wildfires. NOAA Weather Radio receivers come in a variety of sizes and styles in electronics stores or online; the cost ranges from $25 to $100. To learn more, watch this NOAA Weather Radio Set-Up Video on YouTube. El Dorado County residents can tune their radio to Northern California NOAA Radio, broadcasting from Wolf Mountain in Nevada County at KEC57 and WWF67 (Frequency 162.550Mhz) and covering Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Stanislaus, Yolo, and Yuba counties.
Old-fashioned terrestrial radio and television stations also have an important role to play. The Emergency Alert System is a national public warning system that sends messages through broadcasters, satellite digital audio services, direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems, and cable systems, typically accompanied by a special warning tone. Radio station KEBR 88.1 FM carries these notifications in Yolo County.
Cal Fire, the state agency responsible for fighting California’s wildfires, offers tools that can be used via smartphone. Sign up for text alerts at Incidents.ReadyForWildfire.org. And if you’re on the move, bookmark Cal Fire’s statewide map of current fires at Fire.ca.gov/Incidents.
Fire and rain often come with another unwelcome side effect: power outages. To find out where the power is out and and how long it will be before the lights come back on, visit PG&E’s alerts page, which provides a map of current outages and future PSPS incidents. The site PrepareForPowerDown.com also offers information. If you are a medically vulnerable Californian, during a power shutoff you can call (833) 284-3473 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to find resources in your area.
The Red Cross is a familiar player in disaster response, so it’s fitting that the organization has developed a free American Red Cross Emergency app that will show you which buildings are being used as shelters during a disaster along with other useful emergency info.
Not too long ago, earthquakes came without any warning. Now, it is possible to get a little notice, thanks to a couple of apps. The QuakeAlertUSA app, from Early Warning Labs—available for free on the Apple App and Google Play stores—works in California and Oregon. Data detected by sensors managed by the United States Geological Survey determine the location and size of a quake, and the Early Warning Labs cloud server calculates individual alerts. Learn more: EarlyWarningLabs.com/mobile-app.
From UC Berkeley, the MyShake app is a citizen science project to build a global earthquake early warning network. The app, which monitors sensors on participants’ smartphones, is free in the Apple App and Google Play stores. Alerts are only available in California, Oregon and Washington at present, but folks around the world can participate. Learn more: MyShake.berkeley.edu.
In an emergency, there’s no such thing as too much information. The following government agencies will be pumping out tweets and posts, so follow along.• Yolo County on Facebook and X (Twitter).• Yolo County Sheriff’s Department on Facebook and X (Twitter).• Davis Police Department on Facebook and X (Twitter).• West Sacramento Police Department on Facebook and X (Twitter).• Winters Police Department on Facebook and X (Twitter).• Woodland Police Department on Facebook.
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