Preparing for Heavy Rain

The City and County of San Francisco have resources available to businesses before and during the upcoming storms. To help prepare businesses and minimize the risk of flooding, the City recommends that businesses be proactive by inspecting your property for any leaks and other issues, developing your emergency plans, and assembling an emergency preparedness kit. Additionally, we encourage businesses, especially those in low-lying areas, to use the available resources below.


The Department of Public Works will provide up to 10 free filled sandbags to the public during the winter rainy season to protect property.

Sandbags can be retrieved Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Public Works’ operations yard, Marin Street/Kansas Street gate. Bring proof of address. Sandbags also are sold at many local hardware and home improvement stores.

Additionally, for more information on when sandbags will be available and suggestions from Public Works to prepare for the rainy season, please visit or call 3-1-1.

Adopt-A-Street Program

Working to keep your street litter free can help reduce debris entering and clogging storm drains. Merchants associations and neighborhood groups are encouraged to join the Adopt-A-Street Program. You will receive supplies such as brooms, rakes, and trash bags.

For more information on this Program, please visit

Adopt-A-Street Program

The San Francisco Adopt a Drain program enable San Franciscans to "adopt" one of the city's 25,000 storm drains or catch basins and pledge to keep it free of leaves and debris. Drain adopters will be given free training, tools, and supplies. For more information on the Program, please visit


Ensure business has adequate and proper insurance for flooding, fire, etc. and can cover other related damages as a result of heavy rain and other disasters.

Business owners and tenants can buy affordable flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program: Floodsmart. Contact the Public Utilities Commission for more information:

For additional resources on how to purchase insurance for your business, United Policyholders is a non-profit designed to assist people looking for the right coverage:

General Tips for Businesses

Businesses with basements and sub-basements should check for potential leaks. Ensure inventory is properly elevated and or stored above ground to minimize damage in case of flooding or leaks. Know what to do to protect your inventory in the event of prolonged power outages or flooding. For more tips, please visit

Backup and make copies of all your important business documents and store the documents at a safe location. Develop an emergency preparedness plan to ensure you and your employees are safe during an emergency. For tips on how to develop a plan visit the Small Business Administration:

Develop a telecommuting plan for your workforce to limit commute during high winds, rain, and flooding.

Develop a business continuity plan to ensure you get your business back up and running quickly. For tips on how to develop a plan, visit

Grant Assistance for Floodwater Management

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is providing grants to property owners in San Francisco to assist in mitigating the impacts of flooding. Grant funding can assist a property owner in projects such as obtaining flood walls, modifying plumbing and drainage, doorway waterproofing and obtaining a backflow preventer.

For more information on this Program and other resources, please visit

Stay Updated

Businesses can sign up for alerts to receive the most update to date information through AlertSF from your cellphone, San Francisco’s text message alert system. Registration is easy. Just send a text message to 415-888-777 and type “AlertSF” and you’ll receive text message alerts about emergencies taking place in San Francisco. Or visit

The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (SFDEM) will provide information to residents and merchants about any emergencies as they happen via SF72. SFDEM will also direct residents and merchants to any available city resources. Please follow this link to SF72:

For power and other utility outages, businesses can sign up to receive PG&E alerts and updates at

Contact 3-1-1 to Report Debris or Flooding

Business can be proactive in notifying the City of any instances of clogged catch basins, flooding, downed streets and sewer issues by calling in issues to 3-1-1, reporting issues via or download and report issue through the free mobile app. If it is safe to do so, you can also help by raking away leaves and other debris.

Click HERE for a downloadable version of the above resources.

Fire Department Inspections

Ensure your facilities are inspected regularly to avoid elements that may lead to or exacerbate a disaster. Contact the SF Fire Division of Fire Prevention and Investigation for more information.

NERT Training

The SF Fire Department's Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) Program provides residents and businesses with classes on how to help your neighborhood if a disaster is to strike. This training program helps you with basic disaster response skills and helps your neighborhood respond together during an emergency. Contact the NERT program for more information.

Police Department Registration

During an emergency, the SF Police Department may need to contact you if something happens to your business while you are away. You can register your business with the Police Department by filling out a Responsible Party Emergency Notification Information card with your local police station. Contact your neighborhood police station for more information.

District Attorney Business Camera Registration

The San Francisco District Attorney's Office invites businesses to register its cameras in order to deter crime and promote public safety.  During an incident, the District Attorney and law enforcement may need your assistance when investigating criminal activity.  You can reegister your business cameras with the District Attorney by filling an online form at the website here.  

Building Occupancy Resumption Program

Before an earthquake, you should encourage your building owner to call the Department of Building Inspections (DBI) to get a pre-certified emergency inspection, which may allow you to get back into your building more quickly. Contact DBI for more information. 


Sign up for AlertSF to be notified of emergencies in the Bay Area. The text-based notification system will send alerts regarding emergencies disrupting vehicular/pedestrian traffic, watches and warnings for tsunamis, flooding, and Citywide post-disaster information to your registered wireless devices and email accounts.

Business Continuity Plan

You can maintain operations during a service disruption, or open your doors sooner following a disaster, if you have a plan in place. For businesses, this is called a Business Continuity Plan.  A Business Continuity Plan helps your business determine what may be needed to keep your business running after an emergency, and it should cover  the roles of management and staff, safeguarding your communications and technology, and maintaining and possibly rebuilding your facilities.

Keep in mind that creating a Business Continuity Plan is only a first step. You must test and update your plan periodically in order to truly be prepared. Testing and maintenance should be included in your plan.

Elements of an Effective Business Continuity Plan


  • Risk Assessment: To plan for recovery you must understand what risks threaten your business and employees. Identify potential risks like power outage, pest infestation, fire, or earthquake. Then consider their impact and probability.
  • Vendor Assessment: The main objective of a vendor assessment is to determine your vendors’ ability to continue service despite any sort of interruption in normal operations. The goal is to ensure your supply chain remains in tact, so consider each vendor’s ability to respond during an interruption to your business or within its own organization.
  • Identify Essential Functions: Essential functions are activities that are vital to your business’s survival and to the resumption of business operations. Typically, your essential functions are the business functions that are (1) most sensitive to downtime, (2) fulfill legal or financial obligations to maintain cash flow, (3) play a key role in maintaining your business’ market share and reputation, and/or (4) safeguard an irreplaceable asset. 

Management and Staff

  • Delegation of Authority: Continuity of management and leadership is critical to ensure continuity of essential functions. Your business must provide for a clear line of succession in the absence of existing leadership and the necessary delegations of authority to ensure that succeeding leadership has the legal authority to carry out their duties.
  • Cross Training: To ensure that the required skill sets are available, your personnel should be both cross-trained and vertically trained to be able to perform the functions of their peers and the persons above and below them in an emergency. 

Communications and Technology

  • Emergency Communications: Determine, document and publicize an emergency communications plan. This may include a phone or email tree, employee evacuation plan, website emergency messaging system, or plan for multiple forms of communication, like text and email.
  • Phone Recovery: Communication is crucial to your business and has a great impact on the public perception of your business. You should plan to have your phone redirected in the event of an emergency. Contact your telephone provider during the planning process, in order to discuss their available methods of emergency redirection.
  • Vital Records Management: Your vital records are recorded information, regardless of format (i.e., paper, photo, database), that must be protected in the event of emergency or disaster. Create a plan to protect or back up these vital records. 


  • Insurance: Consult with your insurance carrier about special precautions to take for disasters that may directly impact your business. Remember, most policies do not cover earthquake and flood damage so discuss disaster and business continuity insurance with your insurance agent.
  • Existing Facilities: Prevent or reduce disaster damage in your facility by taking precautions, such as bolting tall bookcases or display cases to wall studs, moving large objects to lower shelves, using closed screw eyes and wire to securely attach framed pictures and mirrors to walls, and using plumber’s tape or strap iron to wrap around a hot water heater to secure it to wall studs.
  • Continuity Facilities: Continuity facilities are the locations where essential functions are performed by leadership and staff. If possible, your business should have adequate, separate locations to ensure execution of your functions. 

Plan Maintenance

  • Testing, Training, and Exercise: Testing your continuity plan is the best way to ensure that your business will remain in operation no matter what, or that it can be quickly restored under any circumstances. For some businesses, testing is necessary for meeting compliance requirements. You should do a full-scale test of all essential functions at least once a year.

Last modified date: Tue, 01/28/2020 - 14:22