Storm preparations ramp up ahead of forecasted atmospheric river

Storm preparations are in full gear across the Bay Area with Sunday’s atmospheric river system expected bring heavy rainfall to the region.

Flooding, remains a major concern for low lying areas and a number of local agencies are busy clearing storm drains, and handing out sand bags.

"In the past my garage flooded out and the sewers backed up a little bit so I’m trying to protect the garage the best I can," said Ben Santana, a retired San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW) employee, who lined up bright and early at his former workplace to stock up on sandbags.

The San Francisco DPW is offering city residents and business owners 10 bags each to help keep potential flood waters at bay. And they’re not the only agency helping homeowners shore up their properties. 

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is strategically dropping off sand bags in some of the city’s low lying neighborhoods, including West Portal.

"We’re trying to sandbag the garage because the last time it got flooded here we got like 18 inches in our garage, up to our basement wall," said Christine Totah, a West Portal homeowner.

The DPW and PUC are urging residents in flood prone areas to lift furniture and move any items that could be damaged to higher ground inside their homes.

Meanwhile, crews are checking catch basins. Many were filled up with water or covered in debris from previous storms this week.

"It’s really about scraping off those leaves that can accumulate or other debris that can accumulate on the storm drains that keep them from draining properly. We have a great public program and our residents are very passionate about keeping their streets clean," said San Francisco PUC spokesperson, Will Reisman.

"I already talked to my neighbors. We’re coordinating. We’ll have shifts throughout the night that will sweep those storm drains," said Totah.

In anticipation of the storm, the San Francisco DPW and PUC say they’ve been staffing up, with additional crews ready to be deployed when the weather hits. 

The San Francisco DPW is also extending its sand bag giveaway hours for city residents and businesses. DPW workers will be handing more sandbags out on Sunday at their operations yard from 8AM until 2PM.