Storm causes sewage overflow in SF Mission District

April 12, 2012 6:49:43 PM PDT
Part of San Francisco's Mission District was flooded with raw sewage Thursday because of heavy overnight rain. It's a nasty mess that people there have dealt with before.

Most of the property owners in this Mission District neighborhood have experienced some flooding before and had an idea of what could happen. This, however, does not make the loss of property or the cleanup any easier.

The pushing of brooms, the suds from industrial soap, and heavy sanitizer can be found almost anywhere you look on the affected stretch of Folsom Street. Area restaurants, cafes and an artist gallery got a rude awakening Thursday morning when heavy rain blanketed the city and overwhelmed neighborhood sewer systems.

"It's really personal," artist Igor Cabibaribe said.

Personal because of the work. Cabibaribe is just one of several artists at Workspace, a local Mission District gallery preparing for Thursday night's reception -- an event that has been on the calendar for months. But first he must remove his pieces that have fallen victim to water damage and become unsuitable for showing.

"All of a sudden you wake up to see all of your work, or part of your work, just damaged... that you just can't use," he said.

But the losses aren't confined to Folsom Street. Residents one block over on Shotwell are also dealing with the aftermath of stinky, dirty sewer water and rain runoff.

"It's very disgusting to know that I am actually literally stepping on poop," a resident said.

Water lines mark the flooding's high point and hint at the damage to cars that were parked there.

"I don't want to move anything yet because I want to wait for the landlord to be," water damage victim Charles Rouquett said.

According to a public utilities spokesperson, this part of the Mission is low-lying and once marshland that surrounded a nearby creek making it a magnet for excess water looking for a place to go.

"Overall, our system is good," Jean Walsh with the San Francisco Public Works Commission said. "It is old, it is aging and it needs an upgrade."

Public Works has replaced pumps along Folsom Street, but the intensity of the storm simply overwhelmed the drainage system. There are plans on hand to fix that this summer.

"That's a major effort that's going to revitalize much of our city sewer system," Walsh said. "It's a multi-billion dollar project that we really need.""

Stable Cafe says that they are hoping to be open as early as Monday. The artists at Workspace say that the show will go on for Thursday night's gallery preview.


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