When rain falls on the Central Coast, public works crews and Caltrans shift their day-to-day operations from active projects to storm response.
"Instead of putting in a new construction project, they’re clearing storm drains or responding to calls about falling tree limbs in roadways," explained Jennifer Rice, Transportation Planner/Engineer for the City of San Luis Obispo.
This is similar to how Caltrans operates during these storm events. Their construction projects in the field are suspended so they can focus on rain issues but their storm preparedness starts way before the rain does.
"Our pre-storm work starts in the summer so when the rain does start, our culverts are cleaned out and our drainage system is in good condition," explained Caltrans spokesperson Alexa Bertola.
While the City of San Luis Obispo’s public works team monitors the city streets, the county is scouring the unincorporated areas, watching over 1,350 miles of road. They work in close contact with the California Highway Patrol to make sure roads stay open.
"During storms, our first priority is keeping the roads open and supporting the CHP, followed by clean-up efforts which might take up to two weeks after the storm passes," said Joshua Roberts, San Luis Obispo County Public Works.
While rain isn’t frequent on the Central Coast, the effects can still be impactful.
"Our grounds are just not ready to soak up all of the rain, so we do have to make sure, even if there's just a little bit of rain on the horizon, we have to make sure our project sites are secure and ready for the rain events," Rice said.
The overall message from all agencies is safety. They urge the public to exercise caution.
The SLO County Public Works Department encourages everyone - if they see something, say something. They rely on the public to report road hazards, which you can do on their website.