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Already backlogged with calls, Oakland braces for next powerful storm

on January 4, 2023

Oakland’s Public Works department is gearing up for a series of powerful storms expected Wednesday, Thursday and into the weekend and next week, even as workers are still clearing downed trees, mudslides and debris from last weekend’s heavy rainfall.

“OPW is identifying specific issues that can be addressed to reduce additional impacts, including clearing drains, inlets, and catch basins,” the city said in a news release issued Tuesday and updated Wednesday.

The city is working with Alameda County Flood Control, which manages the Lake Merritt flood gates. And since Sunday, it has distributed 15,000 free sandbag to help residents and businesses protect property from flooding. Sandbags are available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the Municipal Service Center, 7101 Edgewater Drive. Residents also may fill their own bags at the center or purchase sandbags from hardware stores. Alameda County also has been distributing sandbags and has information on its website on where residents can get them.

In its news release, Oakland noted that volunteers can be a big help to city crews by clearing some of Oakland’s 13,000 or so storm drains, which can quickly become clogged with debris and cause roads and intersections to flood.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch and high-wind warnings in effect until Thursday afternoon, with the potential for 1 to 4 inches of rain over the course of two days. And more is on the way, with another atmospheric river threatening weather this weekend and into next week.

Wind will be a major factor Wednesday, with downed trees and power lines expected. On Thursday, the wind will subside, but more rain on already saturated soil could cause more trees to topple.

PG&E says it is ready to respond to the storm, after restoring service to half a million customers who lost power in Saturday’s storm. The plan includes 360 four-person electric crews and nearly 400 utility first responders.

The biggest concern will be with flooding, as a steady, heavy rainfall will douse the area, causing a rapid rise in streams, creeks and rivers.

“This weather system by itself would present widespread challenges, and we have to factor in that many parts of our service area remain saturated after last weekend’s storm,”Angie Gibson, PG&E vice president of Emergency Preparedness & Response, said in a news release Tuesday. “Our crews have been working tirelessly to ensure we minimize any impacts this storm may have on our customers and hometowns.”

Gibson asked customers to prepare an emergency plan in case power goes out and to make sure their contact information is up to date with PG&E.

Oakland cautions that the city will not be able to respond to every issue immediately, but it does urge residents to report public safety emergencies to OAK 311, by dialing 311 from any phone within Oakland or by calling 510-615-5566.

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Oakland North

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