News

San Francisco stepping up efforts to prepare for stormy conditions this week

COVID-19 Command Center, SFPUC, and Public Works are increasing storm prep operations while reminding residents of the efforts they can take to get ready.

San Francisco, CA – In anticipation of heavy wind and rain this week, San Francisco’s COVID-19 Command Center and City agencies including the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and San Francisco Public Works are increasing efforts to prepare and respond to the storm while reminding residents of the steps they can take to get ready.

“The first major winter storm of the season is here and we’re asking San Franciscans to do their part by looking out for each other, having your emergency supplies ready, and avoiding any unnecessary travel,” said Mayor London N. Breed. “We’re ready to manage any potential impacts to City operations as well as our pandemic response programs.”

As a precaution, some outdoor COVID testing sites will close or reduce hours during this week’s severe weather. Residents who have appointments should call 3-1-1 or visit sf.gov/gettestedsf to check if their testing site is open. Our goal is to keep testing sites open as long as it is safe to do so. Anyone waiting for a COVID test should remain in quarantine if they have had a known exposure or are experiencing symptoms.

Change in COVID-19 Testing Site Hours:

  • Potrero Hill Health Center at 1050 Wisconsin Street will close Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at noon and will reopen Friday morning.
  • Embarcadero Testing Site at Pier 30-32 will reduce hours on January 26, 2021 and will close at 4:00 pm
  • Site evaluations continue for all testing locations and adjustments will be made as necessary.

Please go to sf.gov/gettestedsf or call 311 to check for impacts to your testing site this week. There may be other impacts over the next few days, and we will update the website as necessary.

Change in COVID-19 Vaccination Site Hours:
City College High Volume Vaccination Site
50 Frida Kahlo Way

Due to expected high winds and heavy rain that could compromise the safety of patients and staff, this high-volume vaccine site will close Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at noon and will remain closed through Thursday, January 28, 2021. Affected patients will be contacted and rescheduled. This site is by appointment only. There will be no vaccine left unused due to these scheduling changes.

San Francisco’s Safe Sleeping Locations:
Improvements to San Francisco’s Safe Sleeping Villages were implemented prior to the winter season to keep Safe Sleep guests and their belongings safe and dry onsite during wet weather. Intakes for new residents will continue during wet weather and canopies will be utilized to shelter staff and guests at intake. Canopies will shelter charging stations and tarps will be placed over tents and under tents. In some cases, pallets or platforms will raise tents up to avoid groundwater. Sandbags will help direct water away from tent spaces and towards storm drains. Rain ponchos and mylar blankets will be provided, if needed.

Other Citywide Storm Response Activities:
The Homeless Outreach Team will activate a wet weather response with wellness checks, information, supplies and placements when possible. SFHOT will be out in the community with water, socks and blankets will encourage people to utilize resources available to come inside.

To prepare for this week’s storms, the SFPUC has allocated crews to deep-clean catch basins using high-powered vacuum trucks, assigned employees to proactively monitor low-lying areas of the City that are prone to flooding, and assembled on-call teams in collaboration with San Francisco Public Works to clear leaves and debris from the top of the catch basin grates to help stormwater drain more effectively during and after a storm event.

Last night and early this morning, the SFPUC deployed temporary interlocking flood barriers along 17th and Folsom Streets—a low-lying area with increased flood risks—to help minimize the impacts of heavy rains in the neighborhood. The flood barriers will remain in place until the rains subside.

The flood barriers are part of the City’s RainReadySF program. The comprehensive flood resilience strategy streamlines emergency response protocols and provide residents and businesses with the resources they need to reduce the risk of flooding during a major rainstorm.

San Francisco Public Works is deploying extra tree crews to respond to downed limbs and trees. Engineers were out Monday assessing areas prone to landslides to put necessary precautions in place, and they will remain on standby throughout the duration of the storm. In addition, street inspectors are working with contractors to ensure construction zones in the public right of way are safely secured. Street repair crews have extra supplies on hand to respond quickly to emergencies.

The City is also reminding residents about the steps to take to prepare for the rains:

  • Check on friends and family who may need assistance during the storm, especially elderly, homebound, or neighbors with disabilities.
  • Pick-up free sandbags from San Francisco Public Works at Cesar Chavez Street, off Kansas & Marin Streets. More info at sfpublicworks.org/sandbags.
  • Elevate belongings in your garage and any low-lying areas on your property. Store emergency items, such as first aid kits, flashlights, and portable radios in a safe, high location.
  • Remove debris and sweep up any leaves from sidewalks and storm drains to keep them from getting clogged.
  • Report sewer emergencies or service problems such as clogged storm drains, street flooding, or wastewater odors to the City’s 3-1-1 Customer Service The best way is to submit online at sf311.org or by using the free mobile app; and if you prefer by phone by dialing 3-1-1.
  • If a backup or flooding does occur, learn what you can do to respond safely during and after the incident.
  • If the power goes out, unplug and turn off appliances. Leave one light on to signal when power is restored.
  • Avoid using candles because they are a fire hazard, especially in San Francisco due to so many wooden buildings.
  • Have flashlights and extra batteries on hand.
  • Stay away from flooded areas and downed power lines whether in a car or on foot.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Sign up for AlertSF by texting your ZIP Code to 888-777 for real-time emergency alerts.

In addition to those immediate efforts, the SFPUC encourages property owners and residents to also make these long-term preparations:

The SFPUC recently updated its Floodwater Management Grant Assistance Program to make it easier for residential and commercial property owners to access this vital resource and help minimize the impacts of heavy rains on their properties. Additionally, the SFPUC is investing in capital improvement projects to help reduce the risk of flooding in the low-lying intersections of 17th Avenue and Folsom and 15th Avenue and Wawona Avenue, along with the Alemany Farmer’s Market site near the U.S. 101 and I-280 highways interchange.

San Francisco’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will monitor storm activity and any impacts to the City. The EOC will coordinate the City’s response and provide support to emergency crews in the field. For more storm preparedness information, please visit sf72.org.