West Portal field office opens for flooding victims of water main break

April 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee was joined by water department officials and others Tuesday morning for a tour of a field office that opened Tuesday afternoon to help residents affected by a massive water main break in February.

The field office, located at 383 W. Portal Ave., will connect residents to services offered by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the city attorney's office, the Department of Building Inspection and other agencies.

The office, which previously housed a Sylvan Learning Center, is intended to help the residents of 23 homes in the area of Wawona Street and 15th Avenue that were flooded with water when a 16-inch cast-iron water main broke early the morning of Feb. 27. About a dozen cars were also damaged.

"This was not a one-day issue," said Yee, whose district encompasses the neighborhood. "We opened this office to show we care about our residents."

Three homes have since been red-tagged and three others were yellow-tagged, meaning residents can't access certain parts of their homes.

Late Tuesday morning, a stretch of 15th Avenue was closed to motorists as crews worked on repairs along the street.

Several affected homes had garage and basement doors open with construction crews inside drilling into the ground.

Red-tagged homes appeared to be cleared out with front rooms visibly bare and garage and basements bereft of personal belongings, save for a few cars and appliances.

SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue said as many as 20 homes will have their foundations probed in the coming weeks to determine the composition of the soil that was saturated with water.

Ten bores, some as much as deep as 37 feet, have already been drilled along the affected roadways, with results from those probes expected to be released by next week, Jue said.

Based on those results, initial plans for repairs along the water and sewer lines will be determined, with city officials anticipating work continuing through at least the end of June. Another survey of the soil under the street will be conducted the week of April 22.

Yee said it is likely that some of the displaced residents will have to stay out of their homes until the end of the year.

As part of the ongoing repairs, a sewer line will be replaced along Wawona Street between 15th and 16th avenues, limiting access in that area starting next week, Jue said.

A water line replacement project on Wawona Street and 15th Avenue is wrapping up this week, Jue said.

The cause of the Feb. 27 rupture is still under investigation, Jue said.

Jue said residents can visit the field office to obtain services related to insurance claims, check in about the status of repairs and get other assistance.

"We wanted to have a sustained presence" in the neighborhood, Jue said.

Brian Cauley from the city attorney's office claims division said residents are in the midst of immediate needs and repairs. The city is providing $25,000 in short-term financial support for affected homeowners.

He said long-term costs will be handled further into the rebuild process.

The field office will be open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Residents who can't make it during those hours will be able to schedule special visits to the office at other times.


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