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In response to the recent string of retail thefts we have seen in the Bay Area, the Marin County Police Chiefs Association has released the following message...


San Rafael Police Department

San Rafael Police Department

For Immediate Release

Author: Police Sergeant Justin Graham and Emergency Management Project Manager Quinn Gardner
Date: October 25, 2021 2:00 PM

Major Weekend Storm Significantly Impacted San Rafael and City Crews

San Rafael, CA – Sunday, October 24th, 2021, one of the strongest, top five rainstorms in recorded history hit Northern California, bringing more than 7 inches of rain to San Rafael in 24 hours.  In addition to the heavy rainfall, the impacts of the storm were heightened by tides, leaves still on trees which creates a sail effect, and strong winds. The heavy rains began impacting San Rafael early Sunday and by 8:00 AM, storm drains and creeks began flooding the low-lying areas in San Rafael.  

By noon, the tide was coming in, and there was widespread flooding which prompted San Rafael Public Works (DPW), Police (PD), and Fire Departments (FD) to partially activate the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC).  Additional off-duty personnel were called in to assist with the volume of storm-related problems and hazards.  City crews handled downed trees, flooded roads and residences, downed power lines, trapped motorists, and other emergency calls for service.

At 1:00 PM, in the downtown area, most of the streets south of Second Street between A Street and D Street saw major flooding and were closed.  Additional road closures occurred as the water continued to rise with the matching high tides.  

By 1:15 PM, SRPD was forced to close eastbound Second Street from Fourth Street all the way to Hetherton Street and divert traffic onto Fourth Street and Fifth Street through the downtown corridor.  The next closure occurred on Third Street between Heatherton Street and Lootens Place.  Additional flooding occurred on Grand Avenue at the intersections with Second Street, Third Street, and Fourth Street.  Andersen Drive became impassable between Bellam Boulevard and Francisco Boulevard West.  

SRPD Dispatch was inundated with emergency 9-1-1 and urgent calls requesting assistance throughout the city.  EOC Officials and Dispatchers began sending emergency notifications through Nixle and social media to alert residents and drivers to avoid flooded areas and the downtown corridor.

While most drivers observed road closures and avoided flooded streets, several others did not.  It was reported that over a dozen vehicles ended up stalled and stranded in waters that were one foot to three feet deep.  Emergency crews at times saw drivers disregarding road closures and, in some cases, observed drivers running down barricades and cones only to get stuck in floodwaters.  On Andersen Drive, a few motorists decided to drive down the wrong way on the street and then back into the flooded portions.

Fire Department staff used fire engines to rescue motorists from vehicles in flood water up to their doors. Stalled and stranded motorists found themselves waiting hours for roadside assistance. Others abandoned their vehicles, which in some cases could not be reached or towed until floodwaters receded.

Mutual aid requests were answered by the Marin County Sheriff’s Office and Central Marin Police Authority.  MCSO Deputies and CMPA Officers assisted SRPD with keeping the public away from severely impacted areas.  Calls for service along with road closures lasted into the evening hours.

Just after 7:00 PM, a Public Works official was broadsided by a vehicle at the intersection of Bellam Boulevard and Francisco Boulevard East. The driver that collided with the Public Works vehicle was traveling too fast for conditions and failed to acknowledge that the signal light was not working and did not stop as required. 

Only complaints of pain were reported, and no one was required to go to the hospital.  The collision prompted a temporary road closure of Francisco Boulevard East while the damaged vehicles were cleared from the scene.

By 9:00 PM, the rain had lightened, and most of the flooding had diminished.  SRPD had most roads reopened to traffic, and Nixle Alerts to avoid the area were canceled.

In total, SRPD Dispatch received 230 emergency 9-1-1 calls and 206 non-emergency calls, with most being received between 10:00 AM through 1:00 PM.  SRPD and SRFD responded to 382 incidents for service.  The Department of Public Works responded to over 70 incidents. 

SRPD, SRFD, and SRDPW want to remind visitors and residents to be prepared and follow emergency notifications.  Here is a list of things people can do to be prepared and remain safe during emergency events:

  • Go to San Rafael’s city websites: www.cityofsanrafael.org/, SROES.org, www.srpd.org, www.cityofsanrafael.org/departments/fire/
  • Use your cell phone to subscribe to Nixle Alerts by texting your zip code to 888777.  You can also sign-up for Nixle Alerts by following the link: https://local.nixle.com/register/
  • Subscribe to Alert Marin: www.marinsheriff.org/services/emergency-services/alert-marin
  • Go to Marin County’s Emergency Portal: emergency.marincounty.org/
  • Follow emergency and first responder directions and notifications in and outside impacted areas.
  • Avoid unnecessary driving during emergencies.  If you do have to drive, leave the left lanes open for emergency vehicles.  Pull to the right and stop when you see and hear emergency lights and sirens.
  • Stay out of closed and evacuated areas.  Don’t place yourself in a situation where you need rescuing.
  • Tune in to local radio and TV news reports.  For storm-related information: www.weather.gov/
  • Treat intersections with non-working signal lights as four-way stops.  You could be issued a citation for failing to come to a complete stop or worse yet, hurt yourself and others by being involved in an avoidable collision.
  • Don’t drive into flooded areas.  “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”  It only takes 6-inches of water to stall and severely damage a vehicle: www.weather.gov/tsa/hydro_tadd
  • Get PG&E power outage information: pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/outagecenter/
  • Don’t touch or approach downed power and telephone lines.  Assume they are live and energized. Call 9-1-1 and report to PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
  • Have an emergency kit in your home and car.  You should have enough emergency supplies to last up to 72+ hours. 
  • Know your evacuation routes.  You should know at least two or more ways to exit your residence and neighborhood if they exist.
  • Keep your phone and additional batteries charged.
  • Don’t drive with less than a half tank of gas.  When the power goes out, most gas pumps become inoperable.
  • Keep a defensible space around your home.  Remove dead and overgrown trees, shrubs, and plants.  Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris and blockages.

Working together, SRPD, SRFD, DPW, and other City staff, along with our allied agencies were able to work together to respond to this storm. We would like to extend our appreciation to our community for taking the time to be better prepared for the next emergency. 

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Posted: October 25, 2021 2:03 PDT by Police Sergeant Justin Graham

Updated: October 25, 2021 2:18 PDT by Justin Graham


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