El Niño Checklist: Are You Ready?


Keep water from collecting on your property. Make sure to regularly clean out leaf clutter and other debris that may have been collecting on your roof, gutters and downspouts. Clogs can create serious blockages that will be a lot harder to deal with once rains actually come. Also, make sure any downspouts on your property are directed away from your home’s foundation. You may need to buy easy-to-install extensions to guarantee clearance. You may also want to examine the soil around your home’s foundation, making sure that there is enough slope to carry water away instead of puddling.

Install a rain-capture device. As a first step, install a rain barrel and have the downspout empty into it. For every inch of rain that falls on one square foot of your roof, you’ll collect a little more than a half of a gallon in your rain barrel (.6 gallons to be exact). For example, say you have a 10×10 shed and one inch of rain falls on it. You’ll collect .6 gallons x 100 square feet, or 60 gallons of rainwater! If you are feeling more ambitious, you can install a larger-volume rain tank or cistern on your property. For more information, visit www.heytanksla.com, www.rainreserve.com or www.urbanwatergroup.com

Create landscapes that are able to capture and store as much rainwater and runoff as possible.  Whether it’s rain from a few small storms or a devastating El Niño, you can help retain more water and recharge local aquifers. Small-scale residential projects help reduce a site’s impervious surface, improve ability to infiltrate stormwater, conserve stormwater runoff and reduce negative impacts downstream.

Specific small-scale residential solutions include:

  1. Driveway Cross
  2. Dry/Gravel Swales
  3. Dry Wells 
  4. Permeable Pavements
  5. Planter Boxes
  6. Rain Barrels & Small Cisterns
  7. Rain Gardens
  8. Vegetated Swales


Check your property. Clear drains, rain gutters and downspouts of debris.

Get flood insurance. If you already have it, check your policy to make sure you have enough coverage-most policies don’t cover flooding. Residents can identify their flood risk by entering their addresses at the government’s floodsmart website you can also get an estimate for annual premium costs and access a plethora of resources for flood preparedness and recovery.

Put together a disaster supply kit and to practice a family communication plan. A basic disaster supply kit, should include a clear gallon tub filled with:

  • a battery powered hand crank radio to listen to evacuation routes
  • a flashlight
  • batteries
  • a first aid kit
  • a whistle
  • water
  • canned food and can opener
  • a cell phone with external chargers or solar powered chargers
  • prescription medications
  • extra eyeglasses — even an old prescription is better than nothing
  • formula and diapers for babies
  • pet food and water for animals

Check out our Ultimate El Niño FAQ here.