County of Marin - News Releases - January Storm

For Immediate Release
January 09, 2017

County Prepares for Storm’s Next Punch

Public Works handled more than 600 incidents and 20 road closures

San Rafael, CA – County of Marin departments on Monday took inventory of the coordinated responses to the weekend storm and made fresh preparations for more rainfall and higher-than-usual tides forecast for Tuesday.

A swollen creek runs past the Parkside Cafe in Stinson BeachA swollen creek runs past the Parkside Cafe in Stinson Beach.
The National Weather Service predicted light rainfall starting Monday night, a high tide at about 9 a.m. Tuesday and then moderate rain and high winds from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday. Winds could hit 60 mph at the 2,000-foot elevation. With saturated soil, trees might have a tendency to topple if predicted high winds materialize. The storm is expected to taper off by 7-10 p.m. Tuesday.

The County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated with staff members for a 14-hour period that started at 4 p.m. Saturday. During an EOC activation, County employees with emergency training take turns working shifts for as long an emergency continues. Emergency Services Manager Chris Reilly said Monday the EOC remains at duty officer status with minimum personnel.

“We can activate with staff at a moment’s notice,” Reilly said. “The EOC is there to support field operations and coordinate resources when our towns, cities and other agencies are overwhelmed.”

The County’s Department of Public Works (DPW) responded to more than 600 storm-related incidents in a 24-hour period that started Saturday evening. All 40 members of the DPW’s roads division were on duty for the 24-hour event in addition to building maintenance and radio divisions. Marin County Fire responded to many of the same road closure calls because almost every incident involved downed trees or power lines. Other calls were for trees into homes, cars or other structures. In all, there were 20 closures on County-maintained roads, mostly in the rural and coastal areas.

“By the Tuesday morning, all but one of those will be cleared and reopened,” said DPW Director Raul Rojas. “We have to be extremely proud of that record of clearing our roadways during an emergency, and we’re thankful to the dedication and skill of our roads crew.”

Not included in that tally was Bolinas Fairfax Road, a lightly used road between Fairfax and Shoreline Highway on the Pacific coast, which was closed as a precaution for a full week on Friday, January 7.

By sundown Monday, the DPW roads crew planned to reopen School Road in northeastern Novato (flooding), Tomales Petaluma Road in Hicks Valley (trees down), Muir Woods Road near Muir Woods National Monument (tree hazards).

A portion of Lucas Valley Road is down to one lane of traffic because of damage from a mudslide, and engineers said the condition is expected to worsen during the storms this week. The 300-foot-long damaged portion is in the eastbound lane, one-eighth of a mile from the road’s western end at Nicasio Valley Road. The lane will remain closed until weather allows for repair work. The road is a key east-west artery through the hills of northern Marin.

DPW roads crews and Marin County Flood Control District specialists spent all of Monday addressing fallout from the weekend and preparing for Tuesday’s front. Creek levels around the county were receding Monday, but Novato Creek was draining slower than others and is the most likely one to cause flooding issues if the predicted storm delivers.

Tides about one foot higher than predicted created flooding in coastal areas over the weekend. Predicted high tides for this week are 6.93 feet Tuesday, 7.01 feet Wednesday and 6.93 feet Thursday, all based off the National Weather Services’ Golden Gate tidal gauge.

“Considering that actual tides ended up about one foot above the predicted levels on Sunday morning, we are keeping a close eye on the creek water level gages leading into this next storm event,” said Tony Williams of the Marin County Flood Control District. “Anytime we’re talking about a predicted tide of 7 feet or more, we’re going to heighten our awareness and prepare to address problems. Flood Control Zone specialists will carefully monitor key creeks Tuesday as the king tides, coupled with the rain runoff, could heighten creek water levels throughout the region, not just in low-lying areas.”

During a storm, residents and media are urged to watch for news on the County’s social media accounts, especially the Twitter feeds on @dpwmarin, @marinsheriff, @marinfire, @maringov. The County also uses the Sheriff’s Office current emergencies webpage, various County Facebook and Nextdoor.com accounts to keep the public informed. Email, text and telephone notifications are sent via the County’s Alert Marin system. More than 800 people registered since Friday, bringing the total to about 13,000. Register at www.alertmarin.org.

Contact:

Christopher Reilly
Manager
Office of Emergency Services

Emergency Operations Facility
1600 Los Gamos Drive
Suite 200
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6584
Email: Christopher Reilly
OES website