North Bay preps for weekend storm, heavy rain

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MARIN COUNTY (KTVU) -- A storm could dump several inches of rain this weekend in the Bay Area and officials in Marin County, expected to take a direct hit from the storm, are preparing for the worst.

Emergency services professionals say they will be best prepared to respond if they can get crews into place while also working to coordinate and manage their resources.

"Right now it is the calm before the storm," said Deanna Contreras, a PG&E spokesperson. "We just finished making all the repairs and restoring to service all of our customers from all the overnight outages here in Marin County."

PG&E's North Bay Emergency Management Center, which was on alert for storms Wednesday morning, will be prepared to respond this weekend to the biggest storm of this rainy season.

Contreras said the center will stay open until Monday and will likely have about 20 crews prepared to respond, which is more than double the utility's usual staffing.

"That means we'll be ready to roll (and) mobilize," she said. "Our staging equipment will be here (and) our OEC will be right inside."

The utility's smart meters, that sparked controversy when they were initially rolled out, will help pinpoint outages to utility crews.

Marin County officials said they may have to open their county Emergency Services Command Center, which will serve as the command post for public, private and non-profit agencies that will be mobilized to respond to the deluge of rainfall that could overwhelm creeks and streams.

"It's due to the topography in the county where we have Mt. Tamalpais and other mountains throughout the county that literally stop and hang on to those rain clouds as they pass over our county," said Lt. Doug Pittman, a Marin County Deputy Sheriff. "It's not until those rain clouds drop all their moisture that those clouds are able move on."

The Emergency Services Command Center in Marin exists to make sure everyone has the same information and has the same situational awareness for the best coordinated response to flooding, high water rescues, power outages, downed trees, accidents, land movement or other disasters.

"Things become very dynamic, especially as the event progresses a preparedness and a watch and wait stage to a response and eventually a recovery stage," said Tom Jordan, Marin's Emergency Services Coordinator who also added, "Everybody need to be involved in the type of decisions that we make and the types of operations that are a result of those decisions."

KTVU reporter Tom Vacar contributed to this report.