EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) --A long-delayed project to prevent future flooding along the Peninsula's San Francisquito Creek is getting underway.
Flooding has threatened homes several times that lie next to the creek in three cities.
San Francisquito Creek provides a picturesque setting for a nature trail, but it has a long history of flooding.
WATCH VIDEO: Groundbreaking held for San Francisquito Creek flood project
In 1998, the creek spilled over its banks and flooded streets and yards in East Palo Alto. It was followed by another major flood in 2012. "These are not levees. These are just piles of dirt with no stability, no strength and a lot of weakness. We thought we were going to lose them in 2012, so this is something long in coming," San Mateo State Sen. Jerry Hill said.
What's coming is $41 million in flood control work, new flood walls, widened channels and a relocated levee to protect 5,700 vulnerable homes and businesses in the cities of East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and Menlo Park. "We have to work with nature. After all, this creek was like a little Delta. It was modified. Unfortunately development of houses were put right next to it, and we really didn't catch those things back 50 years ago," East Palo Alto City Council Ruben Abrica said.
Luella and Dennis Parker have had to deal with flooded streets and evacuations since moving to this street in 1960. They face more crises ahead unless this work is done. "Sea level rise has been predicted to be three feet over the next decade. We're at the intersection of the bay, the tidal effect and the creek," Dennis said.
The lower creek project promises to provide protection to a 100-year event standard, which could free them from paying over $1,000 a year for flood insurance. "When this project is done, the creek should not flood. I mean there's no way water can come down here and over top these levees," Joint Powers Authority Executive Director Len Materman said.