By Philtrina Farquharson | Contributing Writer

California started the new year with record rainfall that most residents have seen or felt the impact of. The torrential rain caused not only flooding, mudslides, hurricane-force winds, and power outages but also claimed the lives of 20 people. 

According to the National Weather Service, Downtown Los Angeles broke the record daily rainfall last set in 1978, which was 1.56 inches. This past week on January 14, there were 1.82 inches of rain. This new record brings the season total, which started on Oct 1, to 11.91 inches, 6.46 above average.

As a result of this poor weather, President Biden has declared a Disaster Declaration for three counties thus far, which include Merced, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz. In the aftermath, Governor Newsom took the time to visit community members in areas with significant damage while assessments were still ongoing. 

“Every Californian needs critical, in-language information to survive these trying times. These storms are the deadliest in history,” says Diana Crofts Pelayo, Assistant Director, Crisis Communication & Public Affairs at the California Office of Emergency Services.

With additional storms and flooding on the way, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and other state agencies working the frontlines of this natural disaster came together Tuesday to share the impact and how to best prepare for the upcoming storm with resources.

Here are tips and resources to prepare for severe weather: 

  • Sign up for free emergency alerts: Go to CalAlerts.org and sign up for alerts in your county.
  • Make an evacuation plan: This can include creating an emergency contact list, learning different evacuation routes in your community, and following local authority’s guidance. 
  • Prepare for loss of power: Charge equipment during the day, find charging stations, and conserve energy when possible.

Here are resources if the severe weather has impacted you or a loved one:

  • Apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance: Apply through DisasterAssitance.gov, the FEMA mobile app or call 1-800-621-3362.
  • Mental Health Resources at CalHOPE: If you need to talk to someone, call 1-833-317-4673 or visit www.calhope.org
  • Friendship Line for Elders: If Isolated, older adults can call the friendship line at 1-888-670-1360.
  • Check Insurance Coverage and Contact the California Department of Insurance: Car, renters, home, and flood insurance coverage exists for winter storm damage. You can contact the Department of Insurance for help at 800-927-4357 at insurance.ca.gov.

Listos California also offers free materials in many languages for disaster preparedness for the community. For more information, visit https://www.listoscalifornia.org/resources/.

Vance Taylor, Chief Office of Access and Functional Needs, Cal OES, mentioned that 

“There are people who have been disproportionately impacted during these storms,” noting that disabled people, the elderly, and transportation-challenged individuals, among others, are top priorities to assist during these times.