County of Marin - News Releases - State of Emergency

For Immediate Release
December 16, 2014

Marin Issues State of Emergency Due To Storm

Damage to levees near downtown Novato estimated at $1 million

San Rafael, CA – The Marin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to proclaim a state of emergency because of the severe impact of recent storms that began December 10, including a levee breach in Novato on December 11.

An intentional breach in the Novato levee was made on December 11, 2014, to prevent emergencies in the downtown area.The declaration allows the County to apply for state and federal aid to help pay for repairs. County Administrator Matthew Hymel told the Supervisors that it was necessary to take a formal step to aid the County as it seeks financial assistance after estimates to take emergency stabilization measures and final repairs reached up to $1 million late Monday. The Board ratification came one day after Hymel proclaimed a local emergency.

The emergency was caused by significant wind-driven rain damage, high-tide damage and flooding that affected levees and flood control infrastructure. One of the levees near the junction of highways 37 and 101 in Novato was intentionally breached as an emergency measure to lower flood water on Novato Creek. The levee was temporary repaired after the storm.

Raul Rojas, the County’s Director of Public Works, provided a storm damage overview to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that included photos of the levee damage, flooding and washed-out roads. Marin experienced flooding in homes and businesses, mudslides, downed trees and power lines and power outages, but no storm-related injuries were reported. More than 1,000 emergency calls for service were made during the storm, and 326 significant incidents were reported over 24 hours, Fire Chief Jason Weber said. Rainfall totals for the 48-hour storm period December 10-11 ranged from 4-6 inches, and wind gusts were reported at more than 60 mph on peaks.

The County, which sustained some storm damage to its buildings, activated its Emergency Operations Center at 9 p.m. December 10 and deactivated at 4:30 p.m. December 11 after the worst of the storm had passed, while Public Works maintained its Department Operations Center to monitor the levee situation. Hundreds of County personnel worked with first responders from Marin towns, cities and other agencies to preserve public safety.

Public Works estimated the repair costs of up to $1 million to stabilize and repair the intentionally breached levee as well as a levee failure between Lynwood Slough and Duckbill Pond and a levee overtopping between Novato Creek and adjacent ponds. Emergency stabilization measures are estimated to cost $90,000, and intermediate stabilization measures should cost an additional $100,000. Final repair costs are estimated at an additional $800,000 to address the levee breach downstream of the railroad bridge and between Lynwood Slough and Duckbill Pond.

With the emergency declaration ratified by the Board, Hymel said the County can pursue state and federal reimbursement for storm-related expenses. Marin residents who suffered losses must wait for the state’s response to the County’s assessment of damage to see if they are eligible for state or federal financial relief.

The Marin County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office is to coordinate with the state Office of Emergency Services and the Governor’s Office to include Marin in the state’s estimates of damage statewide. County Department of Finance staff will begin working to complete an initial damage estimate, including reports among Marin’s cities and towns, to forward to the state, and will begin to seek reimburse from the state and federal government. State law dictates that the governing body shall review the need for continuing the local emergency at least once every 30 days. The first review is scheduled for the January 13, 2015, Board of Supervisors meeting.

Marin residents are urged to register cell phone numbers to receive texted or emailed emergency alerts at For more information on disaster preparedness, check


Matthew Hymel
County Administrator
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6358
Email: Matthew Hymel
County Administrator website