As a massive storm pummeled its way through California, Alameda fared better than it had in storms of the past. This is largely due to the preventive measures taken by the City to minimize damage. When all was said and done, the effects of the storm included plentiful debris, fallen trees and street light poles, minor flooding, and a few power outages.
Additionally, Alameda Fire Department (AFD) made two weather-related rescues. On the morning of February 4, AFD rescued someone in a sailboat caught in the rough storm water.
“We did respond to a water rescue [February 4] with a sailboat against the rock wall,” AFD Public Information Officer Kevin Tidwell told the Alameda Post. “We rescued a victim off of that boat.”
Tidwell said the rescue was necessary due to the “condition of the water.” The person who was rescued “ended up getting transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries,” Tidwell added.
Then, on February 5, AFD responded to a medical emergency for a person who was stuck on the rock wall for an extended period of time.
“Alameda firefighters located the patient toward the end of the rock wall and started patient care, while additional crews were dispatched to launch a rescue boat,” AFD’s Facebook post stated. “Firefighters worked to load the patient onto the rescue boat and transport the patient to a waiting ambulance at the Encinal Boat Ramp.”
The patient was then transported to a local hospital with serious injuries due to “extended exposure to the inclement weather conditions,” according to the post.
AFD’s storm response also included tending to “several wires down calls and some minor flooding incidents,” said Tidwell. “The fire department didn’t require any major response due to the storm.”
Alameda parks were speckled with minimal debris in the aftermath, “but overall we weathered the storm quite well,” said Alameda Recreation and Parks Department (ARPD) Director Justin Long. The biggest issue occurred at Lincoln Park, where there was “small localized flooding” in the parking lot. There was also some damage done to the Encinal boat dock, “but storms in the past have completely destroyed it, so that’s an improvement there,” Long said. He believes the parks fared so well due to the preventative measures ARPD took to prepare for inclement weather.
“What we’ve learned over the last few years is that we need to do preventative maintenance in advance, so we’ve done a lot of that,” Long said. “We take care of falling tree branches and trees with dead limbs in them so we were able to get ahead of the dangerous debris that can happen during these storms.”
Alameda Marina Harbormaster Eileen Zedd also said this week’s storm was comparatively better than storms of the past.
“We came through it pretty OK compared to last year,” she told the Post. “We had a few dock boxes where the lids flew off and were floating in the water. We had some dinghies get loose. We did have one boat that took on a lot of water and we had to pump it out to stop it from sinking. And we have what I’m calling Lake Alameda in our parking lot. But that’s due to poor drainage. Other than that we came out pretty good. Last year we had a lot of damage.”
Sarah Henry, Communications and Legislative Affairs Officer at the City Manager’s Office, told the Post about preventative measures the City takes to ensure minimal damage during and after large storms.
“Throughout the year, Alameda’s Public Works Department performs preventative maintenance on 4,391 storm drains and 10 storm drain pump stations to help ensure our infrastructure is ready for storm season,” Henry said. “When a severe storm is on the way, we proactively set up pumping in areas that are prone to flooding, lower the lagoons to accept more stormwater, and prepare sandbags for residents to use to prevent flooding.”
This season, the City made and distributed over 4,000 sandbags, which will remain available to Alamedans through the end of February.
Henry also discussed calls the City received this past week relating to the storm.
“During a storm, our crews are available 24/7 to clear hazards, such as flooding, downed trees, and traffic signal outages,” she said. “Thankfully, this storm did not take place during a high tide or king tide, which is what we experienced last January. The calls we received were mostly related to trees, ranging from branches down to entire trees down, with no injuries or damage to private property. Fallen trees caused a few brief power outages to a small number of customers that Alameda Municipal Power quickly restored. The strong winds also caused three streetlight poles to come down.”