Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The rainy season is here. What has the Town done to prepare for the possibility of another flood?

Since January, the Town of Fairfax has actively taken many steps to address the risk of flooding. Some of the actions taken are short-term and some are aimed toward long-term systemic solutions. Here is a list:
  • Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program: The Town of Fairfax, along with San Anselmo, Ross, Larkspur and the County, have joined together under the leadership of Supervisor Hal Brown on the first-ever watershed-wide approach to flood mitigation and creek restoration solutions to protect all of the Ross Valley from the threat of flooding. Fairfax Council Members Lew Tremaine and David Weinsoff serve on the elected officials committee which is advising the Watershed effort, our Public Works Director Debra Sue Johnson serves on the Technical Working Group, and I serve on the Financial Working Group. Each committee complements the work of the entire effort by focusing on key areas to make the watershed-wide approach as successful as possible.
  • The Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program staff, along with town staff, walked the major creeks in Fairfax and identified the sources of potential debris jams and key constrictions. This information is critical to understanding the long-term work that needs to be done such as raising bridges and culvert replacement.
  • The Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program was granted $100,000 from the California Coastal Conservancy which is enabling the creation of a computerized hydraulic model of the Ross Valley Watershed. The model will serve as a predictive tool that will help determine which flood protection projects should be completed first to achieve the most reductions in flooding.
  • A creek-wide clearing and clean-up took place in September, accomplished through the joint efforts of the Marin Conservation Corps, the towns, and the County. Items which could cause major blockages this winter such as debris, overgrown vegetation, and branches were removed from the creeks. This was followed-up in Fairfax by the annual Creek Clean-up coordinated by the Fairfax Volunteers in October, where more trash and debris was removed.
  • Thanks to a grant from Supervisor Hal Brown, the Town has entered into a contract for the installation of a siren emergency warning system, which would serve as an audible alarm system to warn residents of impending disasters such as flood or fire. The installation of the first of three sirens is scheduled to take place in January 2007.
  • The Town’s supply of sandbags, available to residents, is being replenished and a new sandbag-filling apparatus is being installed. The location of the sand, sandbags, and machine will be located in the same place as last year, the parking lot below the Pavilion. In addition, as they did in the spring, Drake High students will be helping to fill sandbags as a community service project in November, so that we will have a supply of pre-filled sandbags readily available for our residents.
  • The Town is participating in the home elevation program through FEMA, and residents who live in the flood plain and have flood insurance are eligible to apply for a FEMA grant to assist with raising their homes. Eligible residents were notified of the program, and if awarded, the grant would cover up to 75% of the cost for those property owners who are participating in the grant.
  • A brochure, “Protecting Yourself and Your Property Against Flooding,” has been created with flood safety tips. The brochure is available at Town Hall, the Police Department, and is posted on the home page of the Town’s website at
  • The Telephonic Emergency Notification System (TENS) through the County of Marin has been improved and the system is available for the Town to use to broadcast an emergency telephone message to a wide area of residences and businesses in the event of flooding.
  • A volunteer Creek Monitoring Working Group was formed, with Fairfax residents serving in the role of creek monitors and providing information to the Town when creek waters rise to threatening levels.
  • The Town’s Citizens’ Disaster Council was reactivated, and is focusing on how residents can be better prepared for disasters such as flood and fire.
  • The Town is actively engaged in promoting Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) through a newly revitalized Central Marin CERT program. The Town, through a grant from Supervisor Hal Brown, is providing a $30 refund to any resident who completes a CERT course.
  • The Town created a disaster preparedness web page linked off of the home page of the Town’s website at
  • The Town has scheduled a special meeting for November 15th at 7:30 p.m. in the Women’s Club for the purpose of considering whether to join Flood Control District Zone 9. Flood Zone 9 is an existing governmental entity which could serve as a financing mechanism for flood control and environmental restoration efforts. Your participation is encouraged at this special meeting.

Since January, many hours of Town staff time have been devoted to both recovering from the New Year’s Eve flood disaster, and in preparing for this winter’s storm season. For more information, see, or contact me at 458-2345.