The rainy season has arrived in the East Palo Alto area about one month earlier than usual. It’s too soon to know if the rainfall this year will be higher than normal, but you plan for the worst and hope for the best. It is too soon to worry about the creek flooding. The risk to East Palo Alto comes from a combination of several days of persistent or constant rain and an extremely high tide at the same time. The extreme high tides occur from about Thanksgiving to the end of January. They are easy to predict, because they are driven by the orbits of the sun and the moon, which meteorologists calculate and publish.
The immediate danger is flooding from the storm drains backing up. Leaves are falling from the trees, and combine with litter to clog up the sidewalk drains in the neighborhoods. There is also pooling in some areas where low spots don’t allow water to drain properly. You can contact the Public Works Department at 650-853-5916 and request debris to be removed from a drain, but the department is very understaffed. Be a good neighbor and a good citizen by doing it yourself.
Heavy rains loosen the root system of trees, and high winds cause them to fall. Roads can be blocked, and power lines can be broken. Be prepared for power outages and other damage from fallen trees.
While we’re thinking about natural disasters, remember that this is earthquake country, and earthquakes strike without warning. The East Palo Alto city web site has lots of information on how to prepare for the full range of natural and manmade disasters (http://www.ci.east-palo-alto.ca.us/police/oes.html).
The author of this article, Dennis Parker, can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.