North Bay crews prepare for next round of rain

December 27, 2012 6:44:13 PM PST
More rain is heading to the Bay Area. And the dry weather on Thursday gave work crews in the North Bay a chance to get ready.

The sunshine provided a window of opportunity for public works crews around San Rafael. The area is still recovering from the pounding it got over the past few weeks and days.

Heavy duty vacuum cleaning on the hillsides of San Rafael could be heard Thursday afternoon as public works crews made the rounds, getting rid of debris from drainage pipes that carry storm water down to the lower levels of the city. They're trying to prevent a large backup that could unleash a torrent of potentially destructive water.

"It's more than anything we've seen in the last 15 years," San Rafael streets supervisor Mark Wright said. "The saturation levels on the hillside are creating a lot of flow throughout the lower levels."

Nearby, there's been a nagging flow of water though resident Frank Carrera's skylight right into his kitchen, "We called the contractor," Carrera said. "We hope to get him over here in the next day or two to see what he has to say and hopefully they can order up a new part. The tarp is coming before the next storm definitely."

On Kerner Boulevard, workers scooped out leaves and other junk blocking the metal grate that goes into a pumping station.

"The grate always gets filled up with grass and all kinds of bikes and stuff like that so we clean it out so the pumps will be able to run," public works employee Fitzgerald Gaines said.

When it rains, those pumps take all the runoff from city streets and flush it into the Bay.

A willow tree toppled on a hillside on Valley View Avenue. It wasn't particularly big, but the branches might have created a natural dam leading into a drain pipe.

"I think it always looks better that a fallen down tree," San Rafael resident Hans Richter said. "And they just recently replaced the sewage and drain. They do a good job."

Throughout the holiday storms, the public works department had eight two-man crews working around the clock. Crews also go on call if necessary. They say Thursday was a chance to catch up on work instead of chasing emergencies.

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