Getting & Using Sandbags

Sandbags: Where to Get Them and How to Use Them

To help the community prepare for possible flooding, sandbags and sand are distributed free of charge to City residents and business owners the first Saturday in October, November, December, January, February, and March. The distribution takes places from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on each of these Saturdays at the:

City Corporation Yard
770 Jackson Street
Napa, CA 94559

When a flood threat develops, the City provides sandbags free of charge. This emergency distribution begins when a flood or flash flood watch is posted by the National Weather Service for the Napa River and/or its tributaries. In some cases, sandbag operations may be initiated prior to a watch or warning if conditions warrant. Follow this link  to check the current status of watches and warnings.

How to Fill & Stack Sandbags

When filling sandbags you should work in pairs, with one person holding the bag while the other shovels in the fill material. The first shovel of fill will be placed on the lip of the bag to help hold the bag open. The bag holder should bend at the waist until the elbows are resting on the knees while he is holding the bag open. The shoveler should use rounded scoops of fill until the bag is approximately 1/3 full. While shoveling, avoid extra movements (turning or twisting of the back) as this will tire you out sooner.

Sandbag Construction

The use of sandbags is a simple but effective method of preventing or reducing damage from water or debris. Suggestions for construction sandbags follow:

  • Close-weave burlap bags are recommended for all sandbag construction
  • Fold over the empty top of the bag in a triangle to keep sand from leaking
  • Place each bag over the folded top of the preceding bag and stomp into place the next layer of bags
  • Stagger the second layer of bags, stomping each bag into place before placing the next
  • Stomp each successive layer of bags

Walls made of lumber or sandbags can be constructed to channel the mud and debris away from any improvements.

Protection of Home or Structure

The following method is used for protection of buildings and other structures where water is rising with little or no current.

Lay plastic sheeting on the ground and up the building walls to a point at least 1 foot above the predicted water elevation, and far enough out on the ground to form a half pyramid of sandbags. Secure plywood over doors and vents. Overlap plastic sheeting and sandbags at corners of building.

Protection of Water or Sewer System

Water or sewer systems can be protected by placing corrugated metal pipe (CMP) over the manhole. Lay plastic sheeting up the walls of the CMP and place sandbags in the form of a half pyramid around the CMP to seal it to the pavement. In a non-paved area, concrete can be placed in a shallow trench. CMP is then set in the concrete. plastic sheeting and sandbags are placed around the CMP. This method will prevent mud debris from entering the system and also act as a surge chamber.