San Diego offers sandbags to residents and issues storm tips in preparation for Hilary
Residents of council District 2, which includes Point Loma and Ocean Beach, can get up to 10 empty sandbags at OB’s Robb Field to aid against potential flooding.
With Hurricane Hilary expected to impact San Diego this weekend as a tropical storm causing heavy rain and strong winds, the city is providing free sandbags to help against potential flooding that residents can pick up at recreation centers in each City Council district.
Forecasters believe the storm, currently a Category 4 hurricane off Mexico, will impact San Diego as a tropical storm.
Residents of District 2’s coastal area, which includes Point Loma and Ocean Beach, can receive up to 10 empty sandbags at OB’s Robb Field, 2525 Bacon St., between 1 and 7 p.m. weekdays. Proof of residency is required.
Residents can buy sand at local hardware stores, landscape suppliers or anywhere else sand can be purchased.
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Beginning Aug. 18, the city’s Stormwater Department will be temporarily placing “No parking” signs in low-lying or flood-risk areas, especially around the San Diego River. Crews also will be cleaning storm drains and inlets that have a history of debris buildup; sweeping streets to keep trash and other pollutants from entering waterways; and monitoring 15 pump stations and more than 46,000 storm drains citywide for any problems.
Patrols also will be monitoring and responding to incidents such as flooding and downed trees or branches.
The city issued several storm preparation guidelines and urged residents to take action to safeguard their homes, especially in flood-prone areas:
• Sweep and pick up trash, leaves, grass clippings and other debris that collects around storm drains and curb gutters.
• Keep the lid securely closed on outdoor trash and recycling bins, and when placing them on the street for collection, place each bin two to three feet from the curb to avoid impeding the flow of stormwater.
• Turn off irrigation systems to save water and minimize runoff.
• Inspect your property or surroundings for loose tree branches or trees that could be vulnerable to high winds and rain and prepare accordingly.
• Avoid beaches, which could be vulnerable to powerful currents, and coastal bluffs, which could be vulnerable to collapse.
• Know the safest routes to and from your property should flooding occur.
• Slow down when driving, and do not drive, ride or walk through floodwaters.
• To report flooding, downed trees or other storm-related problems, use the city’s Get It Done app or call (619) 527-7500. In a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
San Diego Gas & Electric also advised residents to secure any outdoor items that may move or blow away in high wind, such as trash cans, patio furniture, umbrellas and flotation devices in pools.
“Anything that can be picked up ... and flown into a power line,” said SDG&E spokesman Alex Welling.
Welling said SDG&E’s team of meteorologists is working with the National Weather Service to track Hilary’s effects.
“They’re providing the situational awareness to our different operational districts throughout the service territory to make sure we’re not only staffed up but that our teams have the equipment and resources they need to respond to any potential outages as quickly and safely as possible,” Welling said.
SDG&E has no plans to issue a Public Safety Power Shutoff — when utilities turn off electricity in strategic areas when weather conditions are dry and windy to avoid the chance of downed power lines igniting a wildfire.
“If we weren’t expecting rain, that would be a different story,” Welling said. “But fortunately it looks like the rain’s going to come first and then the wind’s going to come after that.”
SDG&E also advised people to fully charge cellphones before the storm hits in case there are power outages.
“Make sure you have a battery-operated radio so if the power does go out and you don’t have cell service or your cellphone battery dies, you’re still able to receive emergency alerts,” Welling said.
Customers can go to sdge.com/outages for updates if they experience any unplanned outages.
— Rob Nikolewski is a San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer.
2:00 p.m. Aug. 18, 2023: This article was updated with information from SDG&E.