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As Hurricane Hilary brings the likelihood of heavy rainfall and potential flooding, the County of San Diego is offering driving tips and sand bags. Photo by F. Armstrong
As Hurricane Hilary brings the likelihood of heavy rainfall and potential flooding, the County of San Diego is offering driving tips and sand bags. Photo by F. Armstrong
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Hurricane Hilary: Local officials provide storm tips, sandbags

While Hurricane Hilary is expected to significantly downgrade by landfall this weekend, forecasters expect monsoonal conditions as early as Saturday across San Diego County, including heavy rain, strong winds and potential flooding.

In anticipation of the tropical storm, city, county and Cal Fire officials are offering advice and free sandbags.


The county’s Emergency Services and Public Works road crews say people should stay alert, avoid driving in heavy rain conditions and take precautions on the roads:

  1. Slow down to avoid getting into an accident.
  2. Please turn on your headlights to see better and make it easier for other drivers to see you.
  3. Try to drive toward the middle lanes as water tends to gather in outside lanes.
  4. Defog your windows for better visibility.
  5. Avoid driving through deep water because it can affect your brakes.
  6. Turn around, don’t drown. Never drive through a flooded roadway in heavy rains if you cannot see the pavement.
  7. Give the cars in front of you extra distance.
  8. Keep calm, don’t oversteer or stomp on the brakes if you start to hydroplane or skid when your tires lose traction with the wet road. The Department of Motor Vehicles says to keep the steering wheel straight and take your foot off the accelerator so your vehicle can slow down slowly.
  9. Stay focused.
  10. Slow down for the cone zone if you see highway or road workers ahead or to your side.

High winds

In preparation for tropical storm-force winds, residents are advised to:

  • Trim tree branches away from your house and power lines.
  • Secure or remove items outside that could cause damage or injury if f they were to be picked up by the wind (patio furniture, patio umbrellas, loose gardening items, yard décor, etc.).
  • Secure loose gutters and shutters.
  • Charge batteries of all essential items such as cell phones and external chargers, and power tools such as a reciprocating saw, which you might need to clear debris or a fallen tree.
  • National Weather Service high wind information

Beach safety

Avoid coastal areas during the storm. High surf and rip currents can make swimming very dangerous.

Thunder and lightning

According to the National Weather Service, most people struck by lightning are struck not at the height of a thunderstorm but before and after the storm has peaked. Most people are unaware of how far lightning can strike from its parent thunderstorm. Lightning can strike more than 10 miles away from the location of rainfall. During lightning storms, there is NO SAFE PLACE OUTSIDE. Follow these safety rules:

  • Immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
  • Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.
  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • If outdoors…these may help…never lie flat on the ground, never shelter under an isolated tree, and never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter. Immediately get out and away from bodies of water.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines).

Save water

  • Turn off your sprinklers until two weeks after the storm
  • Avoid fertilizing your garden and using pesticides and pick up pet waste because rain can carry those things to local lagoons and the ocean

Sand and Bags

Rain can cause flooding and erosion, particularly in areas that are not covered by plants, landscaping, grass and trees. Storm runoff can sweep topsoil, mud, plant material and debris off the land and downstream, where it can damage homes, clog culverts and storm drains, and flood and damage roadways.

The county and Cal Fire are providing free bags and/or sand at numerous fire stations for people who live in unincorporated areas. As some stations have a limited supply, the county recommends residents call ahead to double-check availability and bring a shovel to fill the bags.

Below are locations to pick up sand, bags, or both:


If you have concerns about flooding, the city recommends stocking up on sandbags at local home improvement stores or online retailers. A limited supply of sandbags may be available at these city locations (Limited to 10 sandbags per household. Sandbags are prefilled).

Streets Maintenance Division (This location is out of stock. Will update when more have arrived)
405 Oak Ave.
M – F, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Fire Station 3*
3465 Trailblazer Way

Fire Station 4*
6885 Batiquitos Drive

Fire Station 6*
7201 Rancho Santa Fe Road

*Note: Fire Stations will not have staff available to help with sandbags, but sandbags are available at all hours.

Del Mar

Sandbags are available at the Public Works office at 2240 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Additional sandbags will be available at the Del Mar Fire Station at 2200 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. For more information, please visit
For a list of retail vendors that sell sandbags, please visit


The City of Encinitas Public Works Department provides Encinitas residents with a limited number of sandbags each year. Residents with significant need may self-load up to (10) sandbags, while supplies last, from the Public Works Department, 160 Calle Magdalena, Encinitas. Self-load sandbags are available for residents only, not contractors. Sandbags are available 24 hours a day while supplies last at 160 Calle Magdalena, Encinitas, on the southwest corner of the parking lot at the self-filling sandbag station.

Once the material supply is depleted the Public Works Department may not restock sandbags.  Sand and bags may be purchased from local vendors as well; a few are listed below. Please contact vendors directly for the latest information on availability, price and current location.

  • Home Depot, 1001 N. El Camino Real, Encinitas 92024, (760) 943-9600
  • RCP Block & Brick, 577 N. Vulcan Ave., Encinitas 92024, (760) 753-1164


Oceanside residents can pick up free sand and sandbags (ID required). You fill. Pick them up at:

  • Moody’s El Corazon Recycling is located at 3210 Oceanside Boulevard. Moody’s is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Call ahead before you go because Moody’s sometimes closes during bad weather. Phone (760) 433-3316.

The Oceanside Police Department has a new emergency alert system. Beginning in late March 2023, “Ready Oceanside” alerts will replace Nixle. Ready Oceanside will notify you by text, email, or voice and features maps and images, and you can choose from multiple languages. To sign up, simply text the word Oceanside to 67283 or sign up here.

Unincorporated San Diego County 

  • Bonita: Bonita-Sunnyside Fire Station: 4900 Bonita Road, Bonita, CA 91902, P: 619-479-2346
  • De Luz: 39431 De Luz Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028 P: 760-728-2422
  • Dulzura: Dulzura Fire Station #30: 17304 Highway 94, Dulzura, CA 91917, P: 619-468-3391
  • Fallbrook: Pala Mesa Fire Station #4, 4375 Pala Mesa Drive, Fallbrook, CA 92028, P: 760-723-2024
  • Julian: Julian-Cuyamaca: Fire Station #56, 3407 Hwy 79, Julian, CA 92036, P: 760-765-2885
  • Ramona: Ramona Fire Station #82, 3410 Dye Road, Ramona, CA 92065, P: 760-789-0107
  • Rincon: Rincon Fire Station #70: 16971 Highway 76, Pauma Valley, CA 92061, P: 760-742-3243
  • Warner Springs: Sunshine Summit Fire Station #59, 35227 Highway 79, Warner Springs, CA 92086, P: 760-782-9113

Bags Only

  • Alpine: Alpine Fire Station #17 1364 Tavern Road Alpine, CA 91901 P: 619-445-2635
  • Borrego Springs: Ocotillo Wells Fire Station #54 5841 Highway 78, Borrego Springs, CA 92004 P: 760-767-7430
  • Campo: Campo Fire Station #40 31577 Highway 94, Campo, CA 91906 P: 619-478-5516
  • Campo: Lake Morena Fire Station #42 29690 Oak Drive, Campo, CA 91906 P: 619-478-5960
  • Descanso: Descanso Fire Station #45 24592 Viejas Grade Road, Descanso, CA 91916 P: 619-445-7508
  • El Cajon: Harbison Canyon Fire Station #24 551 Harbison Canyon Road, El Cajon, CA 92019 P: 619-445-5001
  • Escondido: Deer Springs Fire Station #13 10308 Meadow Glen Way East, Escondido, CA 92026 P: 760-751-0820
  • Escondido: Miller Fire Station #15 9127 W. Lilac Road, Escondido, CA 92025 P: 760-728-8532
  • Jacumba: Jacumba Fire Station #43 1255 Jacumba St., Jacumba, CA 91934 P: 619-766-4535
  • Jamul: Deerhorn Fire Station #37 2383 Honeysprings Road, Jamul, CA 91935 P: 619-468-3030
  • Laguna: Mt. Laguna Fire Station #49 10385 Sunrise Highway, Mt Laguna, CA 91948 P: 619-473-8281
  • Palomar Mountain: Fire Station #79, 21610 Crestline Road, Palomar Mtn., CA 92060, P: 760-742-3701
  • Pine Valley: Pine Valley Fire Station #44 28850 Old Highway 80, Pine Valley, CA 91962 P: 619-578-6621
  • Portrero: Portrero Fire Station #31 25130 Highway 94, Potrero, CA 91963 P: 619-478-5544
  • Ranchita: Ranchita Fire Station #58 37370 Montezuma Valley Road, Ranchita, CA 92066 P: 760-782-3467 *(Not staffed 24/7)
  • San Pasqual: San Pasqual Fire Station #84 17701 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, CA 92025 P: 858-573-1322
  • Valley Center: Valley Center Fire Station #2, 28205 N. Lake Wohlford Road, Valley Center, CA 92082, P: 760-751-7605
  • Warner Springs: Warner Springs Fire Station #52 31049 Highway 79, Warner Springs, CA 92086 P: 760-782-3560’s Flooding webpage has more information about how to protect yourself and your property.

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