Bay Area residents begin to clean up all while preparing for next bout of rain, wind

ByABC7 News staff KGO logo
Thursday, January 12, 2023
Bay Area resident begin to clean up all while preparing for next storm
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San Francisco Bay Area residents cleaning up after series of atmospheric rivers with more rain and wind on tap for at least next 7 days.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Bay Area continues to clean up after weeks of powerful storms left much of the region underwater and severely damaged.

From toppled trees to landslides, residents are working to prepare for the next bout of rain and wind all while dealing with road closures and power outages.

LIVE UPDATES: Landslide closes lane in West Marin, Redwood City highway closed

East Bay

The Christ Episcopal Church in Alameda has extended its shelter hours to accommodate more people during the rain. They are now open seven days a week. Normally, they are only open three days.

"It is really hard for them," said Pastor Stephen McHale. "Tents that are now sitting in standing water, and RV's that are leaking. People are literally getting flooded out. It is miserable."

Pastor McHale says they have had to utilize more volunteers and money to get resources for those at their shelter. However, he says they are more than willing to do that.

"It has been painful to see so many people in a difficult position," he said. "Our great volunteers have put in tremendous work. Same with our overnight staff who we pay. Our emergency fund is currently helping us pay for this, and our church community has stepped up big with donations."

If you have the means and would like to donate, head to the church's website.

North Bay

Schools in four of the 40 school districts in Sonoma County will be will remain closed another day Wednesday due to the weather's impact on the area, according to an announcement from the Sonoma County Office of Education.

The following schools will be closed Wednesday, according to the announcement "due to fallen trees, lack of electricity, flooding, or other concerns related to storms": Fort Ross Elementary School District, Horicon School District, Kashia School District and Montgomery Elementary.

The announcement notes that Horicon schools have been closed since Wednesday of last week, and schools in the other three districts have been closed since Thursday.

The announcement included the caveat that officials at school districts make decisions independent of the county office.

It was a frightening moment for Novato resident Semira Habis.

"I was just doing housework and I heard a big boom and the ground shake. I felt like there might have been an earthquake," Habis said.

The mom of two says after days of heavy storms and seemingly never-ending rain, a tree near the creek that runs behind her house toppled over.

"We're lucky that this tree didn't fall this way. Because it definitely would have hit our house. The tree was so big," she said.

And it's not just that tree that's worrying Habis.

She says with the ground so saturated and more bad weather heading our way, she's anxious about what the future might bring.

"I am so scared. Because when there was wind here a couple of nights ago, the wind was so severe," Habis said.

The North Bay has been especially hard hit by the storms of recent days.

In Sea Ranch, two men were found dead inside a home with a tree lying on top of the house.

And near Forestville, another woman who had been missing was discovered by authorities.

RELATED: Sheriff: Woman found dead in submerged car in Sonoma Co. floodwaters after 911 call disconnects

"We were able to find her car submerged in about 8 to 10 feet of water, and sadly she did not make it. She was inside her car," said Misti Wood, of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.

After nearly two weeks of nonstop rain, Habis says she's at her wits end.

"Maybe a little break would be good. Just to feel safe," she said.

But with more rain expected in the forecast, that break might have to wait.

South Bay

It's been nonstop work for PG&E crews working around the clock to fix a transmission tower brought down by a eucalyptus tree on Lincoln Avenue near San Jose's Willow Glen area.

The work continued during heavy bouts of rain and extreme wind that blew throughout the day Wednesday.

While crews had been hard at work, the businesses surrounding the tower had been at a standstill.

"My hands are tied behind my back," said Mario Maciel who owns Fix Auto Collision Willow Glen, "I'm going to call customers and let them know that basically, their cars are going to be delayed."

RELATED: Video shows homes, highways near Gilroy flooded following major storm

Like other business owners in the area, his operations and customers continued to be impacted with each moment the power had been out starting around 2 a.m. on Tuesday.

"I can't even pay my vendors when they come out I can't even print out checks," Maciel said, "There's nothing, our shop is a dungeon."

VIDEO: Drone video shows Felton underwater as Santa Cruz Mountains face flooding, mudslides, evacuations

When the 137-foot tower came down Tuesday, it yanked other power distribution poles, one that landed on the roof of a restaurant and one that could be seen on the ground in front of an apartment complex.

Severe damage also left hundreds of residents without power for two days.

"My daughter had to spend the night at her friend's house because she can't shower in the dark and she needs her phone," said Susie Rojas who lives nearby, "It's really quiet and peaceful, very dark. But it's frustrating."

PG&E says they've had both local crews and workers from out of state fixing the damage here and throughout the Bay Area.

VIDEO: Repairs continue on collapsed transmission tower in San Jose

"We have a large team that's here helping us rebuild the transmission tower," PG&E Spokesperson Mayra Tostado of Wednesday afternoon's repair work. "It's happening very quickly. These are experts that are cutting piece by piece to rebuild the tower that was damaged."

PG&E says the outage caused by this tower falling could have been worse due to the number of customers whose electricity relies on its lines.

They were able to redirect power to most customers but the homes and businesses closest to the transmission tower saw their direct power distribution lines severed.

PG&E is estimating restoration by Wednesday evening.

Localized flooding continues in some parts of Gilroy after Uvas Creek spilled over into the city

Things are still very wet in Gilroy with many of the farmland areas on the outskirts of the city still flooded. Residents we spoke with said this was one of the worst floods they have ever seen. The site of the original Gilroy Garlic Festival was an image that stuck out to many during the flooding with waters nearly covering the first floor. While the home is accessible now, the area is still very saturated.

Valley Water tells us the Uvas Reservoir continues to spill over and residents near the Uvas Creek need to have an emergency plan should flooding happen again as rainy conditions continue into next week. They announced on Wednesday they have extended their Emergency Flood Declaration to continue to respond to potential flooding in Santa Clara County, but thankfully, we shouldn't see a repeat of Monday anytime soon.

"As far as our forecasts go and the way things are looking right now, it doesn't appear there are any significant flooding risks over the next couple of days," Valley Water Spokesperson Matt Keller said.

Drivers along Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains are met with challenging road conditions on a clear day. Combine wet weather, strong wind, winding roads, and the surrounding wall of trees, and that risk becomes reality.

"There's trees falling throughout the county, they're on roadways, branches," Santa Cruz CHP Officer Israel Murillo told ABC7 News. "Downed power lines, downed trees and the roadways and sinkholes."

As bad weather continues to batter Santa Cruz County beach towns, inland areas aren't immune to inclement weather impacts.

Late night Tuesday and during heavy downpour, a two car crash on Highway 17 near Redwood Estates resulted in the rescue of a man, woman and dog. Their car went 50 feet over the side of the road.

"We need to remind people - especially when it's raining on Highway 17 - you need to slow down," Santa Clara County Fire Battalion Chief Bill Murphy said. "Especially on the big turns on the roadway."

San Jose CHP Officer Ross Lee told ABC7 News, inclement weather will certainly always be a contributing factor. However, even in these conditions, there's a lot to say about driving behaviors. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Hazards that have caused quite the mess in the last week alone.

PG&E crews were seen working in the rain on Highway 17, with other road crews and the California Highway Patrol not far away.

"If you see them, please move over as much as possible," CHP Ofc. Murillo said. "If not, slow down. Also keep in mind the workers working on the roadways to clean the roadway and make the roadway safe."

CHP Santa Cruz said it has deployed additional officers during the wet weather.

Message boards approaching Highway 17 warn drivers of the slippery conditions, urging them to reduce speeds.

"Just take your time," Murillo said. "Make sure you get there safely. No need to be in a hurry."

San Francisco

In the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco, this huge tree managed to crush a parked van. One of the limbs then threatened to fall on the Muni light rail high-power lines.

Crews were able to secure the limbs before cutting some of the branches off.

As anticipated by Public Works, trees continued to fall due to the saturated soil.

On Hyde Street near Lombard, this ficus tree was previously tagged to be removed. But part of it came down on this house and on the sidewalk. Again, crews quickly removed it.

In the Russian Hill neighborhood, the soil underneath this walkway slowly began washing away. Crews had to use buckets to remove the mud on that hill.


In the Peninsula, residents are bracing for more rain. A mobile home park that's flooded multiple in the last 12 days has been called one of the most impacted areas in the San Mateo County.

"We came back and a night or two nights after, we got flooded again. It was just like, You guys need to get out or it's your own risk to stay," said Elena Rojas de Barriga, Belmont resident.

Since New Year's Eve, Elena and more than 80 of her neighbors have experienced two major floods. The worst one surpassing over four feet of water and placing multiple homes at the Belmont mobile park under water. Damaged appliances are a sign of the chaotic scene they've lived and the uncertainty of what's to come.

According to county data, 236 residents have been displaced countywide since the beginning of the storms. Many in shelters and hotels. Aside from the coastline, the Red Cross believes this is one of the most problematic zones in the county.

"In this part of San Mateo County, this particular mobile home park is one of the worst impacted," said Barbara Wood, San Mateo County Red Cross Volunteer and added, "Not just the damage that is being done but psychologically it's really hard because people have to leave and then come back."

As the rain continues, CPH officers are also noticing concerning signs on the roads. This morning officers closed off Highway 92 after a 12-inch wide dip was on the verge of turning into a sinkhole.

"It's not safe for vehicles to drive in that area," said CHP officer Art Montiel, "With the amount of rain that we are getting. The ground is saturated."

Bay City News Service contributed to this article.

ABC7 News reporters Ryan Curry, Dustin Dorsey and Zach Fuentes contributed to this article.

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