It hadn’t start to rain yet on Friday morning at his Oceano home, but Steve Ehens was prepared. Dozens of fat, white sandbags were piled near his front door, and four small fresh-water pumps stood ready, in case the storms expected Friday through today caused flooding similar to what happened during downpours in mid-December.
“We’re just kind of waiting,” Ehens said, standing inside his partly repaired home on Security Court. The cabinets have been torn out, and he’s still searching for the perfect carpeting to replace the cushy green “retro” carpet that was ruined during the flooding.
“They call it the islands for a couple of reasons,” he said, referring to the streets around him, named Honolulu Avenue, Maui Circle and Aloha Place. “But this is another reason — we’re surrounded by water.”
In his area of Oceano, located near the Oceano County Airport and the office of the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District, residents are watching to see how high the Arroyo Grande Creek rises. If it’s too high, water can’t flow out of the Oceano Lagoon area, and flooding could result.
“It’s always a concern, because it rises pretty quickly,” said Kathy La Chance, a Maryland resident staying at her brother’s house on Security Court.
She was among those evacuated by firefighters during the December storm, and she stayed two days in a motel.
County public works crews will be monitoring the Arroyo Grande Creek level throughout the weekend.
Crews will also be on the lookout for downed trees in Cambria, any debris falling onto a section of Avila Beach Drive and flooding in parts of Nipomo, including Orchard Avenue and Hutton Road, which is caused by runoff from agricultural land, said Dave Flynn, the county’s deputy director of public works.
However, it’s unlikely that Oceano will get as much rain as it did in mid-December, when, from Dec. 17 to 23, the community received 7.5 inches of rain.
Local forecaster John Lindsey said the system moving through the area Friday and today should bring 1.5 to 2.5 inches to the coastal valleys, including San Luis Obispo; 1 to 1.5 inches in the North County; and 2.5 to 5 inches along the coastal mountains.
A break in the rain is expected Sunday and Monday, with some showers returning Tuesday. On Thursday night, a cold front stalled over Big Sur. Three Peaks reported 5.94 inches of rain over a 24-hour period; Rocky Butte, near San Simeon, reported 3.78 inches; Cambria recorded 1.93 inches; and Adelaida reported 2.5 inches.
The arrival of the storm Friday was slower than Lindsey had initially forecast. He thought the front edge of the storm would move through the region by midafternoon. But the low-pressure area lingered a bit longer offshore. Lindsey revised his forecast to indicate the storm front would pass over the county early Friday evening.
“After such a long dry spell, it’s great that we’re finally receiving this type of rain,” said Lindsey, a PG&E community relations specialist with more than 20 years of experience in forecasting weather for the Central Coast.