Before we moved to Silicon Valley, we visited some more experienced expats who, driving us down 280, made remarks on how lush and green it was and wasn't it lovely?
As we come from a country where nature takes care of the irrigation and where we actually can do with a little less moisture most years, grass being green seems like an odd thing to get exited about. But after many years of California wet and dry seasons - or green and brown seasons - and four years of drought, even we have come to appreciate the differences.
We were here at the back end of the last real El Niño, the winter 1997-98. We learned from other parents at the school how they had had their back yard slushing into the living room - mud three feet up the walls - and many people were sleeping in emergency centers in school common rooms or with friends at higher grounds.
It is different when you know the people; they are not just "some people" you hear about in the news.
We have tried to walk around on the roof in heavy-weather gear because water was dripping from the ceiling. We have a tarp size B I G.
We have seen how what are bike lanes and walking trails in the summer turn into raging rivers in the winter. You know those Los Angeles concrete monstrosities in Terminator 2 where Arnold Schwarzenegger is chased by a truck while driving his motorbike (or where they have the drag race in Grease) ? Yes, they turn into rivers, too.
We have assisted neighbors whose back yard creek was blocked by fallen trees. Suddenly there was water where the day before there was a garden. If the river bank goes, so may the house.
We have had to turn back from roads closed by mudslides and others were reduced to slow one lanes controlled by flag men. For months on end. (You know why they have those nice faux rock walls along 92 between Skyline and Half Moon Bay? 92 was in places reduced to one lane during and after the last El Niño. As were 17 and 84.)
So when the local newspaper publish a "how to" list for flood preparedness, we have been here long enough to actually read it. And so should you - particularly if you have arrived during the drought years and/or live within a mile from the Bay/close to any of the creeks.
Even if you don't live on the ground floor, if you can't get to your building, spare clothes and a toothbrush in the car may come in handy.
If you have employees living in the Bay Area, they may be impacted as well. Can they work from home if the roads are flooded? Do you have a plan for if your office needs to be evacuated? Do you have policies for if your employees need to evacuate their homes?
At least read and bookmark the damn article - OK?
In startup-land we regularly use the terms Due Diligence and Risk Management. That means paying attention to what can go wrong. Some times it is not about contracts and numbers but about power outages, flooded access roads, and freaked out people.
The hills along 280 are green again; aren't they gorgeous? Winter can be lovely in California. If you are not in water up to your knees, that is...