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San Francisquito Creek flood warning system has slippery start

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A first-of-its-kind flood warning system put in place the South Bay had a slippery start after it had a glitch and sent out false warnings. (KGO-TV)

A first-of-its-kind flood warning system in the South Bay had a slippery start. In Palo Alto, the new system had a glitch that sent out false warnings.

Sandbags were placed along the levee of the San Francisquito Creek, but that is really just a temporary fix.

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Major flooding in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and Menlo Park near the creek is still possible, which is why the new flood warning system is so important. The goal is to use December's lighter storms to calibrate the system so when major rains hit later this winter the system will be ready.

The San Francisquito Creek looked calm on Thursday, but Palo Alto homeowner Kevin Fisher won't soon forget the floods of 1998.



"Using the technology of Silicon Valley, we're sort of on the forefront here," Fisher said.

He's signed-up for the new flood warning system put in place by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority. Sensors line the creek.

"It's based on what's in the channel and will give them about an hour and 45 minutes warning," Len Materman from the SFCJPA said.

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"I think the text message alerts are probably the most useful part, so if something bad happens in the middle of the night, we won't wake up at 5 in the morning to realize there's water in the house," Fisher said.

That is an ugly situation he and others have dealt with in the past.

"In this area, these homes are below sea level. The roof lines of these homes is below the top of the levee," Materman said.

Areas of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and Menlo Park will benefit from the warnings, but the first-of-its-kind program is not without growing pains.

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"What we saw yesterday was there a glitch in one of the sensors," Materman said.

The automated system sent out a flood warning during a dry day.

"We're adding a layer of human intervention where if it's clear that there's not an issue, we don't want the system to send out these alerts," Materman said.

The SFCJPA held a public meeting Thursday night at East Palo Alto City Hall to help people sign up for the alerts.

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Related Topics:
weatherrainstormstorm damagebay areael ninofloodingtechnologysilicon valleywarningPalo AltoEast Palo AltoMenlo Park
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