Tom Fayram Flood Prep DPG Talk

Here are the slides from the PowerPoint file that was displayed during Tom Fayram’s presentation on flood preparedness for the Nov.19, 2015 DPG meeting. Tom is Deputy Public Works Director for the Water Resources Division of County Public Works.

We also have an audio recording of his talk (10MB MP3 file), and if anyone would like to put it online please contact us. In coming days I may add more notes from his talk.

His talk began with this photo of flooding. We were surprised when he told us it’s the 101 Fairview exit during previous El Niño flooding, where the current creek underpass work is in progress to reduce flood risk there.


He showed us this slide of drought years.


He talked about how the County and other agencies must work within their budgets, and therefore we all share responsibility for disaster preparation.


This next slide shows the differences between the current El Niño and 1997, noting that the current one is already stronger than 1997. Later he also pointed out the large red areas indicating warmer water off CA and AK (called “The Blob” by forecasters), noting that there’s no historical precedent for this and the effects on our Winter weather are unknown.


He said that El Niño years don’t always result in heavy rainfall or a high annual rainfall total.


He pointed out that despite the current record El Niño offshore, this year so far has brought unprecedented low total rainfall.


He talked about the effects of heavy rain on saturated soil, and sustained high rainfall rates.


He outlined preparations being done by various agencies. He stressed the value of Federal flood insurance (government program with private companies providing coverage), and emphasized the 30 day “grace” period before insurance takes effect. In other words, if you buy flood insurance 29 days before your home is flooded there is no coverage. He suggests buying now.


Note that the “Flood Prevention” pamphlet shown above-right is available as a PDF file here. Despite the above image of a sandbagged home, he didn’t have time to go into detail on how to place them. That information is available on the County website (links below).


Tom described some of the flood preparation work the County does every year, beginning in March. Below is an example of debris they remove to prevent blockage of drainage channels. He pointed out that the County provides 25 free sandbags 24/7 just West of Old Mill off Calle Real. Stuart Clyde pointed out that San Vicente also has free sandbags available.


Tom talked about how the County has no access to or responsibility for most creeks and other drainage channels because they’re on private property, but they do all they can.


He briefly outlined some of the flood response capabilities they have, and talked about how hard these crews work in any disaster. They often work for many hours without rest to protect and assist the public, but the crew is very small for the size of their service area.


This is why it’s so important for each of us to do all we can to prepare. He is extremely impressed with our DPG and how much we’ve done to prepare. He several times reiterated the value of flood insurance and sandbags if needed. He also stressed the importance of a disaster kit (supplies to survive an extended period without power or other utilities), and an evacuation plan (see the “911” DPG section of this website for helpful info here).


He provided the link for info on Flood Insurance at


He displayed this FEMA map of San Vicente & Rancho that shows areas subject to flood potential (larger version in a previous post here on our website).


In this satellite image of our parks, there is a blue line indicating the course of Atascadero Creek which runs through our parks.


In the next slide he listed some online resources he suggests for further info. Here are the same links in a format you can click on to visit: (no www prefix)


Below is another photo of earlier flooding at the Fairview intersection with 101.


He shared this cartoon of Godzilla representing El Niño and the Blob being what forecasters are calling that unprecedented red area shown offshore of the West Coast in the NOAA slide above.


To end his talk and introduce our brief open question period, he showed this slide of Lake Cachuma nearly dry and stressed how badly we need rain.