Are the heavy rains and mudslides in Southern California a preview of what's to come in the Bay Area? Public agencies in the Bay Area are getting ready in case El Niño hits with a vengeance.
In the sunny Oakland hills, public works crews are clearing storm drains, the type of work that happens in case El Niño is severe.
Caltrans is busy too.
“That’s the big thing, making sure the drains are clear,” said Caltrans spokesperson Bob Haus.
Last December there was flooding in the East Bay. A pump house in a low-lying area didn’t work due to copper wire theft. This year, statewide, Caltrans has hired 800 temporary workers to be in on hand in storms.
“We’re also out inspecting places that have been trouble spots in the past, places that are subject to mud or rock slides, especially if there has been a fire and it burned away all the vegetation,” Haus said.
This comes as senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein called on federal officials to be ready for potentially devastating floods in the state after slides hit Southern California.
In San Francisco, the Department of Emergency Management’s Kristin Hogan says a severe weather plan is in place and the agency will tap into several methods including social media to get the word out.
“We’re turning every stone that we can to make sure we’re getting info out,” Hogan said. “There have also been some advances in the past few years…one being the wireless emergency alert system.”
Some cities on the Peninsula are also gearing up for El Niño. Menlo Park, Palo Alto and East Palo Alto all have plans. Back in 1997-98, the San Francisquito Creek overflowed and flooded nearby Palo Alto neighborhoods. Crews will start clearing the creek of debris in the coming weeks. They'll also be adding berms and retaining walls to flood-prone areas.