Urban Flooding


  • Connect with elderly, disabled, or chronically ill neighbors and ensure that they have a flood plan 
  • Gather Supplies: In highly flood-prone areas, keep materials on hand like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, plastic garbage bags, lumber, shovels, work boots and gloves.  
  • Pile sandbags across doorways or other expected water entry points. Get up to 10 free sandbags during the rainy season Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Public Works’ operations yard, Marin Street/Kansas Street gate, or buy them from your local hardware store. Call 311 or visit SFpublicworks.org/sandbags for more information. 
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood, so you or your evacuation routes are not cut off. 
  • Freeze perishable foods like meat and dairy products in anticipation of a power outage. If food rises above 41°F more than 2 hours you should discard it. When in doubt, throw it out! 
  • Move hazardous chemicals like paint, cleaning products, or pesticides off the floor or to higher levels to avoid potential release and contamination. 
  • Apply for a PUC Flood Grant to install flood prevention infrastructure in your home. For more information:
  • Sign up for Emergency Alerts: Text your zip code to 888-777 or visit alertsf.org

Stay Safe

  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Avoid walking, swimming or driving through floodwaters. Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away. 
  • Move to higher ground: If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. 
  • Stay clear of water that is in contact with downed power lines and call 911. 
  • Determine how best to protect yourself based on the type of flooding: 
    • Evacuate if told to do so. 
    • Move to higher ground or a higher floor. 
    • Stay where you are. 
  • Prohibit children from playing in flooded areas. 
  • Stay Healthy: Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with floodwaters. Wash canned goods that come in contact with floodwaters with soap and hot water. 
  • Make the Right Call: Call 311 for non-life threatening storm issues. Call 911 for emergencies. 


  • Check on elderly, disabled, or chronically-ill neighbors to make sure they are safe. 
  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber boots, gloves, and a hat for all cleanup. Floodwater is dirty and may contain sewage or hazardous chemicals. 
  • If you do come in contact with floodwater: 
    • Bathe or shower thoroughly with soap and water. 
    • Wash all contaminated clothing in hot water and detergent. 
    • Make sure tetanus immunizations are up to date. 
  • Disinfect hard surfaces that have come into contact with floodwater with a diluted bleach solution (1 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water) after washing with water and soap. Do not mix cleaning solutions together, as they can produce irritating or toxic gases.
  • Prevent mold by drying out building interior with fans and dehumidifiers and removing wet items immediately. Wet carpet, furniture, bedding, and any other permeable items may develop mold within 24-48 hours. 
  • Be aware of chemical hazards from moved or spilled household toxic items like cleaning supplies, paint, pesticides, antifreeze, poisons, or oil. Visit sfenvironment.org and search “household waste” for information on how to dispose of household chemicals
  • Call PG&E to Restore Gas Service: Do not restore gas yourself. Call PG&E at 800-743-5000 to have gas service restored safely. 
  • Check your fuse box. A power outage could be limited to your home and can be fixed by resetting your circuit breaker. Check with your neighbors to see if they are without power too. If so, report it to PG&E at 800-743-5002.
  • For more information about what to do if backup or flooding occurs in your building, visit the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission at sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=1180