Bay Area residents prepare for storm with sandbags

The bags are provided free by the Santa Clara Valley Water District. They come in handy for homes on hills or in cases where driveways slope down from street level. Preparedness is the name of the game.

Roads and highways can be prone to flooding as well. So Caltrans tells us they're putting crews on 24-hour shifts starting at 8:00 p.m. Friday. They will be working around the clock this weekend as long as it's storming. Extra equipment has been mobilized, including loaders and 10-wheelers, anything that could be needed.

Local rivers and creeks will also be watched closely for potential flooding if the water overflows the banks. South Bay residents say they are ready for the pineapple express.

"A lot of rain with dry soil underneath can cause the top surface to get slippery and slide," said San Jose resident Dennis Sandoz. "We're more worried about slippage than we are flooding."

Fellow San Jose resident adds, "Our garage actually is really low and starts flooding, so if I don't put the sandbags we get a pool in there. We usually put about six. But I'm probably going to put about 10 cause it's the weekend and I don't want to come back."

Sandbags are also needed up in Sunnyvale where Lakewood Elementary has a drainage problem near a classroom. So the school maintenance team put out sandbags early, even though school will be out for the weekend, so the students and teachers don't return Monday with damage to that one, flood-prone classroom.

The sandbags are free in Santa Clara County and are available at 18 locations,

Meanwhile, residents in one East Palo Alto neighborhood are worried about the coming storm and fear that a creek next to their homes is going to flood again. Repairs were done a year ago to San Francisquito Creek, but the neighbors are concerned those repairs won't hold.

Neighbors are keeping a close eye on the weather but they're also watching the creek, hoping it stays within its banks and does not flood again.

"Not much we can do but hope that it doesn't come," one resident said.

Neighbors living along San Francisquito Creek in East Palo Alto are on edge waiting for the approaching storm. Hoping history does not repeat itself on Daphne Way.

John Damon's house was surrounded by water in Dec. 2012, when the creek overflowed during a storm pouring right into Daphne Way.

"God that was a lot of water," he said. "Water come down, blasting down the street here like crazy, got up into the driveway. But that was about it for me."

Damon was lucky that floodwaters stayed out of his house. But other neighbors were not so lucky.

Since the big flood emergency repairs of been done on the levee sand bags covered in concrete have been added for flood protection but San Mateo County officials admit, it's a temporary fix.

Barnard: "Do you think the improvements they made on the creek will be enough?
Damon: "No, it will go over again if it's going to rain like they say it's going to rain, it's going to flood."

With big rains predicted, sandbags are being offered to residents along the Peninsula. Many neighbors are glad to see the rain but hope sandbags are not needed. But if they are, sandbags are free to all residents.

Thirty-five million dollars in flood protection has been approved by the state to raise and reinforce the levee and widen the creek all the way to the bay. Construction on that begins this spring.

Rain won't stop Russian River fishing ban

People in the North Bay are happy to see the rainfall, but it likely won't change things that much along the Russian River where a fishing ban is in the works.

Friday's rain didn't stop Tyler Davis of Sonoma from fishing in the Russian River. He's trying to get in as much as he can, now that a fishing ban will be in place.

"They should at least let us catch and release," he said. "I know the water levels are real low, they are just trying to help the population and let them spawn and do their thing."

The ban is expected to be in place later this month. Because the river levels are so low, spawning fish like the steelhead and the Coho salmon are finding it impossible to go up stream to find a place to lay their eggs. The creeks where spawning also takes place are bone dry.

Robin Johnson has lived in the Guerneville area for 17 years. She was excited to see the rain.

"This is gonna possibly be enough over the weekend to open up those creeks and allow the fish to be free, cause they've just been hanging out," she said.

The ban will affect some local businesses. King's Sport and Tackle is one of them.

But Luana Gerhardt with the Russian River Chamber of Commerce says other businesses understand how important it is to protect these fish.

"We love our resources and we love our wildlife and we're here to protect them and make sure they're here for future generations," Gerhardt said. "So if that means that we need to impose a ban, then I guess that's what's best for the community at large."

The ban will be in effect until May, though it may have to be extended.

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