Wet weather causes more flooding, damage to region

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Another storm has hit the Bay Area and it's brought with it the usual concerns, traffic problems, flooding, fallen trees and power outages.

Workers Friday with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission have been clearing clogged catch basins all day in hopes of preventing the streets from flooding. In most cases, they find leaves and litter, and sometimes dirt.

"This is typically what we see if it hasn't been done for a few years," said San Francisco PUC worker Joseph Marenco. "We come in and we clean it and do the best we can and get it running."

At Lombard Street and Buchanan, workers cut up a large ficus that crashed on top of a parked Prius. It blocked all southbound lanes.

Ficus trees have been problematic in San Francisco this rainy season. The weight of all the water on the already top heavy trees caused them to fall. Crews have been either eliminating or pruning them to prevent similar incidents.

"They were planted 40, 50, 60 years ago," said Rachel Gordon of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. "We don't plant ficus anymore now and because they're not suitable for San Francisco. They're very tall trees, big trees and when they come crashing down they could come crashing down hard."

City workers said they are looking forward to the stretch of dry days coming up. Time, they say to dry out and rest up for the next storm.

In San Mateo County, the Board of Supervisors voted Fridday to declare a state of emergency due to damage caused by recent storms that began Dec. 11.

The declaration allows the county to apply for state and federal aid to cover damages. Initial damage estimates throughout the county total $3,380,000.

In Sonoma County, rescue crews were called to help a driver stranded in flood waters near the town of Bloomfield, west of Petaluma.

Water on Valley Ford Road was about three feet deep, too deep to drive through, so crews had to use a wave runner to reach the car and free the driver.

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"It was really great to see how organized the operation was," Michael Benning said. "And I really appreciate all these young gentlemen coming out to get me to safety."

Residents in Marin County barely had a chance to clean up from the last storm before Friday's rain hit.

Some residents said they were nervous about Friday's rain.

Marin Cleaners in Tiburon was one of the businesses that flooded in recent storms. The water mark on Mayra Canalas' shop window three days later, is a reminder of the damage flood waters can leave behind.

"The water was up to my ankles. It was really bad," she said. "Nineteen inches here in the front area and I had about 20 inches, 20 to 22 inches inside my office."

She's wasn't the only one to find herself wading through water. For some, the flooding was so bad it forced them to close their doors. Blinds & Designs closed up shop and shifted their orders to their San Francisco office.

VIDEO: Marin County residents brace for more flooding with recent storm

With only six days before Christmas, Santa won't be picking up any goodies for the boys and girls at a Tiburon UPS store. Flood damage forced the owner to pack up, leaving only a sign behind.

Around the corner at Olympic Physical Therapy and Aquatics, Jeff Harband is working through the damage and remains open for business. He's had to replace about eight inches of drywall, and will need new carpeting and a computer all because of flood damage.

"It was about 2 or 3 inches, it was a pain to clean it up," he said.

As he and the others watch the rain coming down they're prepared. Crews are using blowers to clear away anything that may clog a drain. Sandbags sit by every door and a massive pump stands at the ready, prepared to be fired up if needed.

Holiday travelers flying out of San Francisco International Airport Friday night are experiencing flight delays of up to three hours caused by inclement weather, an airport spokesman said.

As of shortly before 5 p.m., flights were experiencing delays between one and three hours long, said SFO spokesman Chuck Navigante.

He said most of the flights experiencing delays are expected to take off roughly one to two hours behind schedule.
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