By design, residents of unincorporated Sacramento County were largely on their own to prepare for last week's series of storms.
County sandbag distribution centers remained closed, .
Fair Oaks resident Dot Boyd said she and her husband were hoping to pick up some sandbags from the county, and ended up buying them at Lowe's instead. She wondered why they weren't provided before the storm.
"It’s a small price to pay for protection but for many people, that is too much," Boyd said in an email.
Diane Margetts, a spokeswoman for the County Department of Water Resources, said officials don't want residents to rely on the county instead of being prepared for flooding.
"It's really not the county or any jurisdiction's responsibility to provide sandbags," Margetts said. "We really go through a lot of effort to educate folks so they understand their flood risk. We want them to know what their risks are and be prepared to deal with that."
Margetts the county works with the National Weather Service to determine if a storm will be severe enough to warrant emergency sandbag distribution–storms in 2005 and 1997 met that criteria, she said.
"The county does not open sandbag sites during most short duration or routine storm events typically experienced in Sacramento," the county's website states. "Due to the lead time needed to get sites operational it is not effective to open sandbag sites during most storms. By the time the sandbag distribution sites are operational, most storms will have passed and any localized flooding will have already occurred."
Margetts said the long-standing sandbag policy isn't budget-related; it's about encouraging self-reliance and preparation at home, where leaf-clogged storm drains can cause localized flooding. The county received 475 calls for service–many of which were about clogged storm drains–in the unincorporated areas during the recent storms, she said.
"Our major point is know your flood risk," she said. "Anybody can flood. Just because you haven't flooded before doesn't mean you won't."
The county provides storm-readiness tips at stormready.org.
What do you think of this policy? Did you buy or pick up free sandbags for the recent storm? Tell us in the comments section below.