Melted drain pipes could bring flooding as Santa Rosa Fire zone prepares for storm

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- From devastating wildfires to possible flooding, mudslides and debris flows -- that's the very real scenario officials in Santa Rosa are bracing for inside fire zones as the first big storm of the season moves in.

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In the fire-ravaged Fountaingrove neighborhood, work crews are racing to beat the storm by removing 80 feet of plastic storm drain pipe which melted during the firestorm.

They're replacing it with metal pipe. Last week, a sinkhole seven feet deep and four feet wide developed on Newberry Court after more underground pipe was found melted, leaving water with nowhere to go.

"We are prepared for the storm, we have crews monitoring hillsides and affected areas looking for potential debris flows or mudslides," said Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal.

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The problem appears to be getting larger. So far 23 areas of damaged or destroyed drain pipe have been found by city crews using tiny cameras. That means, miles of drain pipe can't handle any rainwater.

More than 1,000 homeowners have been notified about the situation which could mean possible evacuations in the event of flooding.

"It sounds so ominous. If I was a religious person I would say this is the end. We'll see what else can happen here," said Fountaingrove homeowner Rashmi Rao.

Many streetside gutters have been sealed off to keep the water away.

The city urges residents to sign up for alerts from NIXLE or

Click here to sign up for the free alert service.

Click here to download the ABC7 News App to get your weather forecast on the go. And make sure you enable push alerts for immediate notifications and severe weather alerts.
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