Report on County Response to Winter Blast
January 31, 2008
REPORT ON COUNTY RESPONSE TO THE WINTER BLAST
Final figures from the early January storm have underscored its strength and the impact on residents and agencies.
The brunt of the storm was felt primarily on the western slope rather than at North Lake Tahoe, where blizzard conditions had been expected.
However coordination with local and state agencies, plus preparation and response planning, enabled crews to best serve local residents, 24-hours a day in many instances. Staff and equipment, such as Red Cross shelter equipment, were mobilized in advance of the storm.
- The Placer County Office of Emergency Services staff worked long hours beginning New Years Eve, coordinating multi-jurisdictional response efforts overall. The Emergency Operations Center in Auburn was activated early on Friday, January 4 to enhance coordination among agencies during the brunt of the worst storm, and remained open through most of the weekend. An emergency operations center at the Burton Creek Substation in North Lake Tahoe was activated on Thursday afternoon and remained open until late Saturday. Throughout the storm county staff, local and state agencies, and the National Weather Service were in regular contact to respond to the challenges and provide appropriate resources. Public Information staff answered information lines in both Auburn and North Lake Tahoe to ensure that residents had correct and up-to-date information.
- The County declared a state of emergency, which was ratified by the Board of Supervisors and ultimately the State of California, potentially opening the way for assistance.
- County residents experienced major power outages – approximately 45,000 according to PG&E – and some lasted several days. However few power outages occurred in North Lake Tahoe.
- Placer County Public Works crews were heavily impacted, working 12-hour shifts around the clock, in addition to storm preparations during preceding days. Beginning work at 4 a.m. on Friday Jan. 4, crews responded to more than 150 downed trees on county roadways and also responded to downed trees affecting the public in other locations.
- For several days, Public Works crew members also worked 24-hours-a-day in 12-hour shifts, removing snow from county roads in areas stretching from Foresthill to Alta/Dutch Flat, the Serene Lakes area and other parts of North Lake Tahoe.
- Public Works team members also delivered another 118 tons of sand and about 14,500 sand bags to 17 dispensing sites in the unincorporated areas of the county.
- Placer County Facility Services dealt with a number of power outages in county facilities, including lift stations, wastewater treatment plants and the Western Placer Waste Management Facility. In some cases, non-essential staff was sent home because services could not be provided to clients in the absence of power.
- Facility Services staff also responded to leaks into several buildings due to winds and heavy rains. These did not cause significant damage. There were numerous trees blown down at county facilities, sometimes onto vehicles or buildings, particularly in Foresthill.
- There were about 400 fire calls in the unincorporated area of western Placer County during the first hours of the worst storm, taxing local fire agencies. Placer County Sheriff’s Department handled a large volume of 9-1-1 calls and provided other assistance to residents.
- There were about 12 homes and 4 businesses with major damage, including a handful of homes that experienced a few inches of water, but no significant flooding, in some cases thanks to quick assistance from South Placer and Placer County Fire agencies.
- County Health and Human Services helped staff the shelters and sent Environmental Health staff to Foresthill to help residents with problems stemming from power outages. Animal Services staff was ready to help when animals needed a place to stay.
- The Building Department assessed damaged homes and buildings, while the Community Development Resources Agency assisted with maps.
- County staff, particularly public information staff, answered several hundred phone calls for information, primarily from residents and news media. PIO staff also distributed several news releases through local news media and the county web site.
- The American Red Cross, working in partnership with the county, opened shelters in Foresthill, Auburn, Rocklin and Truckee in Nevada County, and were prepared to open shelters in North Lake Tahoe had they been needed.
“We’re very proud and pleased with the work done by the emergency response crews from all the agencies,” said Jim Holmes, Chairman, Placer County Board of Supervisors.