Flooding closed Ashby Avenue in both directions late Thursday afternoon. Photo: Jennifer Lazo
Flooding last winter closed Ashby Avenue in both directions. Photo: Jennifer Lazo

Experts are predicting the possibility of heavy El Niño storms this winter, which may well bring floods, downed trees, heavy winds and damage to power lines to Berkeley. This week, city and school district officials are teaming up to offer a free workshop designed to help the community get ready.

Thursday, Dec. 10, the city manager’s office, Office of Emergency Services, Office of Energy & Sustainable Development, and Department of Public Works are collaborating with the Berkeley Unified School District to host a public workshop “to help community members prepare their home and family for the potential high winds, rain and flooding from El Niño storms.”

Read more about Berkeley weather

Attendees will be able to learn more about what steps the city is taking to prepare for winter storms, and what community members can do to get ready as well.

Timothy Burroughs, the city’s chief resilience officer, said Berkeley workers have been taking a close look at storm drains to make sure they are clear before harsh weather hits, and assessing streets and sidewalks to try to make infrastructure updates to those that appear more likely to flood.

Burroughs said he hopes residents will keep an eye on the city website for the latest information about available resources and plans. The city also promotes those efforts on Twitter, and residents can sign up for email updates, too.

“The purpose of the workshop,” Burroughs said, “is to help community members understand the potential impact of El Niño storms on our community, learn about what the city government and school district are doing to prepare, and to empower attendees with information and steps they can take before, during and after a storm.”

On the agenda: ideas about how to prepare homes for winter weather; tips for parents about how to keep their families safe; information about where to get free sandbags in Berkeley; and what the expected El Niño impact could be in Berkeley.

There will also be discussion about how to get storm-related communications from the city and school district, and information about reliable emergency power and lighting supplies.

Attendees will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win an emergency preparedness kit and other items from the city.

According to a statement released last week by the city manager’s office, “The workshop and the work the City and its partners are doing to prepare for El Niño is part of a broader, integrated effort to advance Berkeley’s resilience in the face of climate change and other physical, social and economic challenges.”

The event will take place Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Berkeley Unified School District boardroom at 1231 Addison St. Parking is available in the lot at Browning and Addison streets. The venue is wheelchair accessible and light refreshments will be provided.

Update, Dec. 16: The city’s CERT program sent out the following update about the workshop. It appears below in full.

The City of Berkeley hosted a community workshop on December 10, 2015 on El Niño preparedness. Check out the City’s El Niño Preparedness website: http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Resilience/ElNino

Here are some resources to keep you safe:

  • El Niño Workshop (December 10th) See the Presentation for information on how to keep you home, business, family and pets safe in a storm.
  • Sandbags Berkeley residents can pick up free sandbags at the City’s Corporation Yard at 1326 Allston Way, between 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday.
  • City of Berkeley’s Website will have the most up-to-date information for keeping you prepared before, during, and after storms or other emergencies. See the City of Berkeley homepage. Or sign up to the City of Berkeley’s Twitter feed or the City of Berkeley’s News Releases webpage to have updates sent to you.
  • Adopt a Drain Program Help the City keep storm drains free of debris. See Adopt-A-Drain Program for free start-up kit.

Those with questions can email Timothy Burroughs at TBurroughs@cityofberkeley.info. Learn more about Berkeley’s CERT program and 311 services on the city’s website.

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...