'Storm prep mode': Bay Area braces for atmospheric river, possible flooding

ByLauren Martinez and Leslie Brinkley KGO logo
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
East Bay braces for atmospheric river storm, possible flooding
San Francisco Bay Area residents are bracing for Wednesday's atmospheric river storm and preparing what they can for potential flooding.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- On New Years Day in 2023, those who live in the East Bay remember the torrential rains flooding many local waterways, especially on El Capitan Drive in Danville where homes were inundated with water. The Trucco family had water up to their front door and had to be rescued.

"Actually, the fire department had to take us out of our house," Joy Trucco said." I couldn't get out of my house.

"That was last year so now you must have a little bit of fear?" ABC7 News reporter Leslie Brinkley asked.

TIMELINE: Strong level 3 storm Wednesday will bring heavy rain with flood watch for entire Bay Area

"Anxiety. Oh yes, I do and my two next door neighbors - we all do. Very scary," Trucco answered.

Public works departments say last year's storm was problematic because it swept through as all the leaves fell from the trees, clogging the drains. This time, the late January timing means the leaves are already cleared out.

"We're in storm prep mode. As always, we're doing our due diligence and we're making sure we're clearing out our storm drains, catch basins and roadside ditches," Kelly Kalfsbeek, spokesperson for the Contra Costa County Public Works Department said. "We have all staff and all hands on deck."

Sandbag stations around the county are stocked up with officials urging residents to bag up before the heavy rain comes, since runoff could happen quickly with the soil already super saturated.

"With the ground saturated, trees are more likely to fall," Kalfsbeek added.

Danville residents say they've seen a lot of debris removed in many locations but say more could be done to mitigate flood risks.

MORE: How to prep your home for rain storms and other emergencies

The operations chief with San Ramon Valley Fire District said that along with other Contra Costa agencies, they've gotten OES approval to have extra resources on standby for this atmospheric river including five extra engines, a dozer, a hand crew and a swift water task force - just in case.

In the Santa Cruz mountains, volunteers with the county alerted residents in high risk areas heavy rain is coming.

Public information officer for Santa Cruz County Jason Hoppin said they're expecting the storm system to short but impactful.

Officials say there is a potential for flooding at local creeks and rivers.

"We had a rain event about a week to 10 days ago where the San Lorenzo River came in about 4 feet above predicted levels, so that shows us the ground is very saturated," Hoppin said.

PG&E said the Santa Cruz mountains could see the most adverse weather so they're activating their emergency operation centers in the region.

Along the San Lorenzo River behind the Felton Covered Bridge, is Tamara Boole's equestrian center. The property boards around 60 horses.

Boole said they have 20 acres in the back that often go under water in the winter During certain emergencies, they have evacuated for fires and floods.

"We flooded last year and we did we had all the horses leave the property, so we do have a pretty extensive evacuation plan," Boole said.

A bulletin gives others a heads up to plan ahead of time.

"What we ask our boarders to do so ahead of time to find someplace for their horse to go," Boole said. "Whether it's a different stable or whether its someone's backyard, we have lists of that too of people that'll help out."

Boole will remain at the property and watch the weather closely.

"Water is powerful and we need the rain. We'll probably be up and watchful," Boole said.

MORE: What to do if you're returning to a flooded home

PG&E said the Santa Cruz mountains could see the most adverse weather so they're activating their emergency operation centers in the region.

Ayzin Uludag, a Bonny Doon resident said over the summer they cut douglas fir trees that were facing her house. They're prepared incase of outages.

"We have a generator already and we also got a battery as a backup and we are storing some food," Uludag said.

The staggering toll of last year's series of storms damaged homes, businesses and beloved destinations.

The pier at Seacliff State Beach was deemed irreparable and was removed.

Due to unsafe weather conditions this week, Seacliff State Beach will be closed from Wednesday to Thursday.

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