From sandbags to clearing storm drains, Bay Area prepares for heavy rain and potential flooding

ByCornell Barnard, Ryan Curry, Tim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, January 20, 2024
North Bay residents prep for series of storms
In the North Bay, residents are getting ready for the series of storms that's set to pound the region with wind and rain through next week.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Rain is already coming down across the Bay Area as a "parade of storms" will bring heavy downpours at times with possibility of flooding through next week. Here's how residents across the region are preparing.

TIMELINE: 'Parade of storms' begins Friday in Bay Area with rain in forecast for next 6 days

North Bay

In the North Bay, first responders and residents are getting ready for the series of storms that's set to pound the region with wind and rain through next week.

Doug Simon was filling as many sandbags as he could at the Santa Rosa Municipal Services Center.

"I'm here to prevent flooding in front of my house to divert water because the heavy rain is coming," said Simon.

LIVE: Track rain in San Francisco Bay Area with Live Doppler 7

We found a Santa Rosa Public Works crew on the job, making sure city storm drains are clear and ready for a lot of water.

In Novato, a roofing crew was covering a roof with a giant blue tarp to keep the house dry.

First Responders are preparing for 3-5 inches of rain through Tuesday. The series of storms is bringing the threat of flooding and possible landslides. Last year, a landslide on Cooper Drive left several homes red-tagged. Plastic sheeting is now in place to protect the hillside.

"Some of the stuff we like to remind residents to do if you're living on hillsides - to check the hillsides look for any movement that may be happening," said Will Powers from Santa Rosa Fire Department.

San Francisco

In San Francisco, barricades are out on the streets as public works hopes they will stop rising water from getting into buildings.

In San Francisco, sandbag stations are stocked and ready to go. People who live and work on Folsom Street are taking advantage.

At the edge of the road, big barriers are put out as public works hopes they will stop rising water from getting into these buildings. This street got hit hard by last winter's storms

But flooding isn't the only concern. Rain-soaked trees can be dangerous.

"These seem to take on a lot more water, and once they get top heavy and the soil is lose, they're going to come down," Frank Vasquez of Vasquez arbor care said.

Frank Vasquez and his team will be ready to go this weekend.

It's hard to predict when a tree might come down, but when they do - look out.

Just this week, a giant eucalyptus tree fell in golden gate park. And it wasn't even raining.

VIDEO: 'Are we dead?': Family describes terrifying moment large tree crushed cars in SF's Golden Gate Park

Arborists worked for hours to remove a massive tree that came crashing down in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Monday, damaging five cars and causing 11 people to be rescued.

"When you're under pressure, things start to happen and you can make wrong decisions so going over some of the safety issues, when to leave a situation, when its safe to work in a situation," Vasquez said.

Others aren't letting the rain stop them.

At LuxFit in Hayes Valley, you can't sweat without getting a little wet.

"There might be some waterfalls to our left and to our right but for the most part, we can stay absolutely dry and get our workouts in," Brandon Vu, co-owner of LuxFit said.

MORE: SF to inspect for hazards at Golden Gate Park after 5 cars crushed by large tree

The outdoor gym has tents up over their equipment.

Co-owner Brandon Vu says they'll stay open, but they'll have to make some adjustments.

"For group classes, we have a lot of folks in the house, which beginning of the year it's been hot at the gym, so maybe we are getting a little tighter and closer with our neighbors but otherwise it is business as usual," Vu said.

They stayed open during strong downpours last year, and are ready to do it again.

"We can make it happen, just come bundled and come prepared," he added.

On Friday night, it was umbrellas up for many people outside on the streets.

VIDEO: Bay Area arborist turns fallen trees into coveted furniture

The fierce storms that battered the Bay Area gave arborist Michael Veneziano a lot of work converting toppled trees into elegant furniture.

Inside, though, preparations were taking place in a different way.

"San Franciscans tend to stay home during the rain. So it can be challenging for businesses," said Amy Cleary.

Cleary works with the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. She says bad weather can put a massive strain on local eateries, especially on weekends.

"I think it also depends on where you are in the city. I think there are some neighborhoods, downtown, places like that tend to be busier in the week," Cleary said.

Last year, many restaurants and other businesses were hit by severe flooding after a particularly stormy winter.

After last winter's heavy rain, restaurant owners in San Francisco say they've learned a lot of new things.

That was true at El Tepa Taqueria - where they were forced to close for several days.

"The people don't come in for a long time. So when we reopened, the people didn't know we were open and they don't know how long it took to reopen again," said Estella Ramos.

And while most told us they weren't fans of the rain, others say when it happens, there's no better place to be.

"I love the rain. I like personally standing in the middle of the street while it's raining but like pouring, not drizzling," said Angelina Polselli.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live