Volunteers help San Francisco prepare for the next storm through Adopt-A-Drain program

Lyanne Melendez Image
Sunday, January 8, 2023
Volunteers help SF prep for next storm through Adopt-A-Drain program
Volunteers help San Francisco prepare for the next storm through the city's Adopt-A-Drain program.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco continues to clean up and is now bracing for another storm. It's all been a little challenging but city volunteers have stepped up to answer a call for help.

Here's the issue. Clearing all those storm drains -- 25,000 of them -- has always been a challenge for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. That's why they have relied on volunteers through the Adopt-A-Drain program.

"We have 2,500 volunteers who have already volunteered to take on about 3,800 of those different drains," outlined Dennis Herrera who heads the SFPUC.

That agency wants more residents to go online to take the plunge and commit to adopting one of those drains.

MORE: Russian River Valley braces to evacuate as nearly 40 feet of water is projected to flood the area

"We have David Lang here who is our community partner who has adopted eight drains on his very own to take responsibility for," said Herrera during a press conference earlier in the week.

We spoke to Lang and asked him why he volunteers?

"With that many drains, that's the least we can do. If you're walking the streets, can you not pick up trash? You can't always wait for someone else to do it," said Lang.

He makes sure one particular drain is free and clear in time for neighborhood students to cross the intersection.

MORE: Timeline: Flood Watch until Tuesday as Bay Area faces several more storms

A soggy weekend is on tap for the Bay Area as more rain, wind, and flooding is headed our way with the first storm arriving this afternoon.

He has a name for the most troublesome drain he adopted.

"I call it MoFo," he said, laughing while explaining why it is so troublesome.

"The silt that you can't see coming from construction sites that go into the drain, it could be clay from natural soil and it hardens," he said.

He showed us a long stick he used to clear the drains.

MORE: Storm cleanup, concern in Santa Cruz County as beach towns brace for more rain

"I use a long stick and it's like a Pogo stick. It helps clear it and plunge it," he told us.

The SFPUC wants more people to volunteer.

We asked the owner of a neighborhood restaurant to make the commitment.

Tim Hayman had never heard of the program but told us he already clears the storm drain on the corner.

For those residents and businesses who are still prone to flooding, the Department of Public Works announced it has received more sand bags. So far 13,000 have been handed out.

"We're also now preparing our staffing plans for the weekend and the week ahead, because we are expecting more rain. So last week and all this week, this Wednesday and next week, we are going to have extended crews on hand," said Rachel Gordon, spokesperson for the Department of Public Works.

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