Mountain View Voice

News - January 22, 2010

City holds up in stormy weather

by Staff Reports

As several powerful rainstorms wash over the Bay Area this week, reports from all over have described flooding, power outages, felled trees and traffic delays, among other problems.

But as of press time Wednesday, Mountain View appears to be holding up just fine, according to emergency personnel.

"We're getting calls for service here and there," said Lynn Brown, Mountain View Fire Department spokesperson and coordinator of the city's Office of Emergency Services. Despite these calls, he said, overall the city had not yet seen any major damage due to the weather.

"I just spoke with the battalion chief and he said everybody else in the county is running all over the place" — but not in Mountain View. As a result, authorities so far were "not overwhelmed" by the storms.

Brown said that last week, in preparation for the storms, the Fire Department sent word to the Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT — nearly 1,000 Mountain View residents who have been trained by the department — to be on alert in case of flooding or emergencies.

Brown said on Wednesday that the city's emergency responders weren't getting complacent, especially since "the ground is saturated now, so if we get some high winds we could have some trees falling down."

Meanwhile, city residents did experience some power outages as PG&E crews struggled to keep the lights on throughout the region.

The first storm, which hit Monday, knocked out power to tens of thousands — about 56,000 PG&E customers around the Bay Area as of Tuesday morning, with nearly half of those outages on the Peninsula, according to utility spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian.

Power was restored to most customers by Tuesday afternoon, but another storm that night again knocked out power for many. As of 8 a.m. Wednesday about 22,000 Bay Area customers were without power, the utility reported.

Sarkissian said the outages were temporary and that PG&E crews were working hard to restore power.

"We have been preparing for this and we have all hands on deck," she said.

Anyone who sees a downed power line should call 911. Otherwise, outages can be reported to (800) 743-5002.

The series of storms was expected to blow over by the end of the week and to bring nearly 10 inches of rain to the Bay Area, according to the National Weather Service.

Bob Benjamin, a National Weather Service forecaster, said Sunday that the system was unusual in its quick progression of storms.

"One will lead right into the other, and each individual storm will be accompanied by periods of heavy rain and higher winds," he said. "To have this progression, this number of systems, is not unheard of but it's not usual. If it progresses as anticipated, at the end, we will probably have to go back 10 years or more to find a system of equal rainfall and intensity."

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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