Communications Director/City Clerk Priscilla Schaus
Dedicated Crews Work Through Historic Storm to Protect Foster City
Foster City employees fended off the threat of potential widespread damage during the weekend’s historic storm through a combination of thoughtful planning and rapid response. Teams started work in advance of the storm’s arrival and their efforts continued through the weekend to assure homes, businesses, public property, and the rest of the community were protected.
When forecasts late last week projected severe rains and high winds, the Public Works Department started preparing. Crews held advance planning sessions and assured critical response equipment was ready to be suddenly deployed, lowered the lagoon water to winter levels to avoid flooding, and set up a sandbag filling stations in the City Hall parking for residents. As the storm’s intensity mounted early Sunday, crews jumped into action. High winds blew over fencing and knocked limbs from trees, requiring additional personnel to be called into the response. Then a Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) power outage struck a significant portion of Foster City, which included 15 lift stations, requiring Public Works crews to connect generators to lift stations so they could be manually pumped down to avoid the threat of sanitary system and sewer overflows. In all, it is estimated that 5,500 Foster City residents were impacted by the power outage during the most recent storm. The City of Foster City has no authority to manage the electrical grid, so concerns regarding power outages during the stormy season should be directed to PG&E by visiting https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/outages/current-outages/report-vie…
The Foster City Police Department too contributed to the emergency response, controlling traffic where tree limbs had fallen into the roadway or flooding had occurred and monitoring intersections where the traffic signals lost power. Calls to the Police Department reporting power outages are discouraged, and such outreach should instead be directed to PG&E. Do not hesitate to call the Police Department in case of other weather-related emergencies.
The Public Works response effort continued from about 1 p.m. on Sunday until when the storm passed and power was restored around 9 a.m. on Monday morning. A crew of 13 crew members from the department traded shifts throughout the weekend responding to calls, monitoring lift stations, tracking lagoon water levels, and more. Ultimately, no major damage was reported in Foster City, despite the storm bringing gusty winds and dumping historic amounts of rain throughout the region.
“We were ahead of it, and I think the preparation was a big reason we did not have a lot of problems. But I want to give credit to the guys, they were the ones out there the whole time in the rain. They are the real heroes,” said Public Works Maintenance Manager Allen Smith.
Interim City Manager Kevin Miller admired the response from Foster City staff as well. “I am tremendously proud of the way our Public Works Department rallied under the adverse conditions brought by this powerful storm. Their commitment to comprehensive planning and rapid response was critical to defend our community, and Foster City comes out of the weekend relatively unscathed due to their dedication and hard work,” said Mr. Miller.