Flood relief efforts continue in San Pablo

February 23, 2009 5:35:55 PM PST
Contra Costa County is increasing its efforts to try to stop the flooding in one hard-hit San Pablo area. But, that work is running into problems.

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The problem revolves around the County and its efforts to try to get a private property owner to do their part.

The effort on the part of the county to prevent more flooding continued over the weekend. There was a close call Sunday as water levels rose knee-high before crews got their pumps going, but they were able to avert another disaster for homeowners in the area.

A bulldozers muddy mess Monday represented at least some progress in the battle to keep a the neighborhood free of flooding.

One day after rising storm waters nearly flooded homes there again, a backhoe and crews paid for by Contra Costa County cleared tons of silt and debris.

It was a mess that was blocking the county's 54-inch drainage pipe on property owned by the Burlington Northern Railroad.

"The railroad's hired a contractor to be out there and they've dug down to get to the bottom of our pipe," explained Contra Costa Public Works Director Joe Yee.

But, this is just a temporary solution. Nothing has been done to clear the property downstream which is owned by developer Pinole Point Properties.

A representative for the developer told ABC7 that the county is welcome to come onto their land to clear it. However, they will not do it themselves, fearing it will make Pinole Point liable for any future flooding.

Pinole Point was not included in a meeting on the issue at Supervisor John Gioia's office. The county says it does hope to engage the developer in future discussions.

"Ultimately, we're going to protect the homes from being flooded and do the work, and if necessary, sue the developer so we don't subsidize them with taxpayer dollars," declared Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia.

"We're back to square one if Pinole Point Properties don't step up to the plate, because it'll still flood. There's nowhere for the water to go," said resident Bob Van Bipper.

In the meantime, Costra County county continues to pump silt and debris from the drainage pipe. As for the backhoe, there was so much mud in the area it was trying to clear, it had to be chained up and pulled out by a Burlington Northern diesel engine.

Until the County can come up with a more permanent solution and make an agreement with that pivate property owner, they will have pumps on standby to make sure the neigborhood doesn't flood.

They also put a pile of sand in the middle of the street for any homeowners who would like to do any of their own sandbagging.

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