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California Flooding: How to Get Information and Assistance

California residents are dealing with the aftermath of major flooding and mudslides after an atmospheric river pummeled the state with rain.

Record rainfall caused flash flooding, which left homes and roadways damaged, particularly in Southern California.

AARP has compiled a list of government, nonprofit and other resources that currently offer information or support to those impacted by flooding statewide. This list will be updated as more information becomes available.

If you need emergency assistance, call 911 immediately.

Emergency weather alerts and updates

CalAlerts.org: Sign up for emergency alerts in the county where you live or work through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services’ wireless alert system. You’ll need to provide a mobile phone number and an email address. You can also sign up for wireless alerts by county through Listos California at listoscalifornia.org/alerts.

California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES): Find flood and disaster updates and resources on the Cal OES website. Cal OES also offers informational resources in multiple languages through its Listos California program. Additionally, safety tips and updates can be found on the agency’s Facebook pages (@CalOES and @ListosCalifornia) and Instagram accounts (@Cal_OES and @ListosCalifornia).

NOAA Weather Radio: Listen to radio stations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for information on current and incoming weather in your local area.U.S. National Weather Service (weather.gov): Enter your city, state, or zip code to find weather forecasts in your area.National Weather Service River Levels (water.weather.gov): Find river observations and forecasts across California.

Local news outlets: Closely monitor your local TV and radio stations for up-to-date information and instructions from emergency personnel.

Where to call for non-emergency help

California 311: To ask questions or get help with non-life-threatening issues, call 311.

Flood safety tips

Ready.gov: Floods: Get tips on what to do before, during and after a flood from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services: Flood, Mudslides & Debris Flow: Find information on what to do during a flood or mudslide emergency on the Cal OES website. Cal OES also offers informational resources in multiple languages through its Listos California program.Going home after a flood: Get resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on staying safe and healthy and returning home after a flood.Flooded Homes Cleanup Guidance: Get tips from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on DIY cleanup and protecting your health.

Road conditions and transportation updates

QuickMap (ca.gov): Check road conditions and traffic closures in your area using the California Department of Transportation’s live map. You can also check current highway conditions by visiting roads.dot.ca.gov or calling 800-427-7623.

511 Real-Time Traveler Information: Call 511 for real-time travel information in select California areas (San Francisco Bay area, Inland Empire, Kern, Sacramento region, San Diego region, San Joaquin Valley, Santa Cruz and Southern California). Some areas also have a 511 online tool, which you can access via the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) website.

Metropolitan Transit System: San Diego County: Complimentary transit passes may be available for those who live in areas impacted by the storms or whose vehicle was impacted. Call customer service at 619-557-4555 for information about reduced fare options and trip planning.

Reporting a power outage

Utility companies: Report any outages to your utility company. Find a list of utility companies on the California Energy Commission's website.Power outage tips: Get advice from California Public Utilities Commission on what to do during a power outage.

Food assistance after a disaster

California 211: Call 211 if you’re in immediate need of food, and an agent will connect you with resources in your area. Lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

California Association of Food Banks: Use the organization's food bank locator to find resources near you. There are more than 40 community partners in the organization's network.Where to find shelter

Emergency shelters: Find a list of open shelters, when available, for communities impacted by storms. Shelters are coordinated by Cal OES, the California Department of Social Services and local governments.

American Red Cross: The nonprofit organization offers free shelters in communities impacted by weather disasters. Visit the Red Cross website to find open shelters near you.

Medications

Preparing for an emergency evacuation: Plan ahead with the California State Board of Pharmacy’s disaster planning guide, offering tips on what to do before and during an emergency evacuation.

Federal assistance

FEMA announced on Monday, Feb. 19, that federal disaster assistance is now available to individuals impacted in San Diego County from severe storms and flooding on Jan. 21 to Jan. 23.

FEMA – DisasterAssistance.gov: On Monday, Feb. 19, President Biden approved federal disaster assistance for areas affected by storms that unfolded Jan. 21 to Jan. 23. This makes federal funding available to individuals in San Diego County and can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses and other recovery programs to help individuals and business owners.

If you’ve sustained a loss in San Diego County, you can apply for assistance by registering online, calling 800-621-3362 or using the FEMA App.

Federal assistance may become available to other areas if requested by the state and warranted upon assessment. Visit DisasterAssistance.gov for the latest.

Financial disaster help 

SBA disaster assistance: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest federal disaster loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters. As a result of President Biden’s major disaster declaration of Feb. 19, those impacted in San Diego County by the storms on Jan. 21 to Jan. 23 may now apply for an SBA loan. Businesses and private nonprofit organizations can borrow up to $2 million, and homeowners can borrow up to $500,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate.

USDA disaster recovery assistance: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing technical and financial assistance to help farmers and livestock producers impacted by recent storms.

Mental health resources

Disaster Distress Helpline: Call this toll-free helpline at 800-985-5990 from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Anyone experiencing distress as a result of the disaster can call or text this number to receive immediate, free and confidential counseling from trained professionals. Services are available in multiple languages.988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988 is a free and confidential helpline for people in distress. Anyone needing crisis support can call or text the number at any time, or chat online via the webpage.

Grace Dickinson is a writer for aarp.org who covers federal and state policy. She previously wrote for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her work has also appeared on sites including HuffPost and Eater.

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