'Get ready:' Preparations underway as strong winter storm barrels down on Bay Area

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, many are getting ready ahead of the approaching atmospheric river, which could bring flooding to some areas.

A giant leaf vacuum was on duty in downtown San Rafael, the newest storm prep tool for the Department of Public Works.

RELATED: Atmospheric River to bring heavy rain, strong winds to Bay Area next week

"We're doing it today because it's the eve of the storm," said DPW Supervisor Mike Castaneda.

Castaneda says there's no time for his crews to waste, clearing leaves from storm drains ahead of a forecasted atmospheric river that could bring several inches of rain.

"A lot of rain in little time with high tides can make for a lot of problems, the fewer leaves the better," Castaneda added.

Last October, downtown San Rafael was flooded, when an atmospheric river dumped near-record amounts of rain in a short period of time.

LIVE: Track rain in Bay Area with Live Doppler 7

"It was bad, we were so flooded we had to shut down for weeks," said Cheryl Reiss.

Reiss says the Ritter Center was underwater, the family and homeless non-profit outreach suffered major damage during the last week of October. On Friday, directors are taking no chances. There are sandbags near doors and a new sump pump was installed.

"We are doing what we can with risk mitigation trying to get prepared and be ready for the severe storm or flooding so we can keep operating and serving the community," Reiss added.

RELATED: PG&E warns outages could start Saturday as atmospheric river takes aim at Bay Area

PG&E Crews were trimming trees near power lines on Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. The utility says extra crews are on standby for the storm and extra equipment is being brought in.

During the last storm, PG&E had to replace dozens of power poles that got damaged. It's stocking up in case it happens again.

"The ground is already wet, so when that happens with the wind and rain expected we could see outages," said PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contraras.

Yes, the rain is welcome during this severe drought, but many hope it doesn't come all at once and bring flooding and some anxiety.

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