SAN DIEGO — As Tropical Cyclone Hilary passed through San Diego County, many residents braced for the forecasted heavy rain and high winds by fortifying their homes with sandbags.

According to the County, residents used over 100,000 bags of sand in preparation for Hilary in order to reduce the risk of flooding.

But now that the storm has passed, many may be wondering, “What should I do with my sandbags?”

According to the County’s Department of Public Works, here are some options on what to do:

  • Reuse them. With rainy season approaching, experts say you can keep your sandbags stored away and ready to use for the next rain event. You can empty your clean sand and store the empty bags away from the sunlight or store your filled bags in a safe, above-ground spot.
  • Repurpose the sand. If your sandbags were not contaminated with foul water, chemicals or petroleum products, you can use them for something else. Public works experts suggest using the sand for raking into soil, adding to planters or using as a soil amendment for flowerbeds.
  • Place empty bags in the trash. If you need to dispose of an empty sandbag, the County says to make sure the empty bags go in the trash and not the recycling bin if you choose not to reuse.
  • Take them to a landfill. If you cannot reuse your sand or sandbags, the County says you should not place your full bags into a trash cart, bin or dumpster. Instead, local landfills will accept sandbags that were used for stormwater control during Hilary. You can take your sandbags to the Borrego Springs, Miramar, Otay and Sycamore landfills around the county.
  • Handle contaminated bags with care. If your sandbags were contaminated during the storm, experts say you should handle them with protective gear, like gloves and eyewear. You can safely dispose of them through a landfill or a hazardous waste contractor, but you will need to contact a landfill in advance, since additional handling and paperwork is required.
  • Check with your local jurisdiction. The County suggests checking with your city, tribal land or independent trash contractor for any additional guidance or assistance with sandbag removal.

The County of San Diego recommends residents to sign up for emergency alerts at or through the SD Emergency app.

Unincorporated county residents can also contact 1-877-713-2784 with additional questions regarding sandbag removal.