FARMINGTON -- A key city emergency preparedness official has issued a letter of warning and advice to residents on how to deal with the possibility of mudslides over the next six weeks, suggesting among other things that people not sleep in the basement during that time frame.
In a recent story and headline about the potential for mudslides in Farmington, the Standard-Examiner mistakenly reported that the public should consider sleeping in their basements.
City Manager Dave Millheim suggested that, during this vulnerable time, sleeping in the basement is not advisable.
Paul White, emergency preparedness coordinator for Farmington, issued a special letter to residents Wednesday, outlining the possibility of mudslides during the coming spring thaw and also suggesting some precautions be taken.
White suggests the following precautionary steps for residents who live in areas that have had flooding in the past:
* Have a 72-hour kit up to date and ready to take in an emergency.
* Move sleeping areas from the basement to upstairs for the next few weeks, until the mudslide danger has passed.
* Use sandbags as a protection for your property. The city's Department of Public Works has made bags and sand available for residents wishing to build sandbags.
* Tune to the county's 1700 AM emergency radio station during any event that might occur.
* Help your neighbors and make sure they are also prepared.
White said the current snowpack is at 138 percent of normal, and that could lead to flooding and mudflows similar to those in 1983.
"We are better prepared now than we were in 1983, with debris basins and clean stream beds in the community. We believe we are as prepared as possible for any event that might occur," White wrote.
Still, he stresses the need for individual preparedness.
If a landslide or debris flow occurs, White said there are several key things residents should know.
He recommends the following:
* Being alert and awake. Because debris flows come with little warning, White said, many of the resulting fatalities occur when people are sleeping. He said short bursts of rain may be particularly dangerous, especially after long periods of rainfall and damp weather.
* If you live in areas susceptible to landslides, consider leaving if it is safe to do so.
* Listen for any unusual sounds that might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together.
* Be alert for any sudden increase or decrease in water flow if you live near a stream or channel of water.
* Be especially alert when driving, because embankments along roadsides are particularly susceptible to landslides.
For more advice, visit www.fema.gov.