Bay Area clears storm damage, braces for next system

Many people in the Santa Cruz Mountains are preparing for round two of a heavy rainstorm.
February 27, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The South Bay may be the first area to feel the second storm's punch and in San Jose, preparations were underway all day Thursday to minimize damage from the potential high winds.

Many of San Jose's storm drains flow right into the Guadalupe River, so maintenance crews are trying to make sure its flow isn't being blocked by debris that could lead to flooding. Runoff from Wednesday's storm is still draining at a good clip into Los Gatos Creek, one of three major waterways that channel storm water into San Francisco Bay.

Now, the South Bay is bracing for the second, more powerful storm with potentially-high wind gusts, a storm with punch that people haven't experienced for a long time. "We've gotten so used to not having winter that people might be surprised by it," Sunnyvale resident Meridee Wendell told ABC7 news.

A private contractor for PG&E is scrambling to prune as many trees as possible to prevent branches from snagging and bringing down power lines, as many utility lines pass through the crowns of trees. Besides electricity, those lines also carry telephone, cable, and internet service.

"During storms and high winds, there's always a potential for a tree to fall on one of our power lines, and that is why we do so much to invest in maintenance and tree trimming year round," said Monica Tell with PG&E.

Wednesday's storm barely raised levels at the 10 major reservoirs in the Santa Clara Valley Water District. In all, they saw 663 acre feet of water added, or roughly 125 million gallons. But that only increased the capacity of the reservoirs by less than a half percent.

"Our goal in reducing water use by 20 percent is to save about 72,000 acre feet, so it's just barely helping," said Marty Grimes with the Valley Water District.

For Thursday night, the Bay Area is hoping for a downpour but no outages or damage.

'I'll probably just kick back and put a movie on my computer and just chill out, maybe light some candles, you know," said Cupertino resident Zac Carlsen.

North Bay assesses damages after first storm

North Bay neighborhoods saw quite a bit of damage from Wednesday night's strong winds. Thursday's break in the action gave people time to assess the damage from the first storm and recover from it.

As the rain came down from storm number one, some cars flipped over and trees came down.

"We heard a snap and we felt the tree fall," one resident said.

A tree in Fairfax took power lines down with it. Mill Valley also lost some trees.

"We did have about six reports of trees down, blocking the roadway due to the winds last night," Mill Valley Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike St. John said.

The CHP responded to spinouts on Highway 101. One driver's truck flipped upside down. He said he hit a puddle and lost control. Other drivers say they can relate.

"If you don't take care of your car, you can get out of bounds and it's really dangerous," San Rafael resident Freddy Alvarado said.

Now we are in between storms and officials say this is a good time to prepare.

Mill Valley has just restocked its sandbag supply, is clearing creeks, and is monitoring conditions.

"If you came into my office you'll see a tide chart with all the high tides highlighted," Battalion Chief St. John said. "And we'll start watching the Doppler in a few hours when the storm gets a little closer to see what it's gonna look like."

Back in Fairfax, crews are trying to get the tree cleared and get the power back on before storm number two rolls in.

One woman on the block, however, is looking on the bright side of not having any electricity.

"It feels so wonderful," she said. "Without the electricity on, the whole energy of this neighborhood is different, it's really nice. I didn't realize that we're walking around in this electric field on a daily basis and without it, your body feels better, you're happier."

During this in between period, PG&E advises residents to charge cellphones and any smartphone devices you have so you'll have a full battery. That way, if your power does go out, your phone will be ready to go.

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