San Jose officials discuss ways to prevent future floods after Coyote Creek devastation

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After months of finger-pointing between officials, the San Jose City Council met with board members from the Santa Clara Valley Water District to discuss ways to improve flood monitoring and prevention. (KGO-TV)

After months of finger-pointing between officials, the San Jose City Council met with board members from the Santa Clara Valley Water District to discuss ways to improve flood monitoring and prevention.

The joint meeting, which came two months after the massive Coyote Creek flood, was also an opportunity for the two sides to clarify roles and responsibilities. "It's critical that we get real improvements in place this summer, so we're prepared for the next wet season, and I know the teams will work together to make that happen," Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

PHOTOS: Flood waters rip through San Jose causing damage, evacuations


The Coyote Creek flood, which occurred over President's Day weekend, forced the evacuation of thousands of San Jose residents, leaving hundreds in the neighborhoods affected without a home. City officials say the flood caused nearly $100 million in damage to public and private property.

"I know there's a lot of people that are really suffering right now cause they're very afraid," San Jose resident Ted Smith said. "I've lived through three floods going back to the 1980's, and the fact that they are still saying there are bureaucratic hurdles, there are regulatory hurdles, they've had so much time to figure this out."

Today, the city council and the water district board approved the creation of an "emergency action plan" for both agencies to follow in the future. The plan will define flood threats by stages, weighing risk severity and overall conditions, and also outline when warnings should be issued to local residents and businesses. The goal is to have the plan finalized by October.

RELATED: Animals impacted by San Jose flooding

Immediately following the February floods, residents expressed their outrage and frustration at the city for not being warned before it was too late to evacuate. Floodwaters trapped a number of residents after they were caught off-guard and had to be rescued by boat.

City officials would later blame the water district for not providing correct data about how much water Coyote Creek channels could safely handle during the storm, thus delaying their decision to order evacuations. But at today's meeting, water district officials fired back, saying the data calculations were strictly estimates, and that the city had been given enough information to properly warn residents.

Earlier this week, the water district confirmed the hiring of James McManis, a prominent Silicon Valley trial attorney, to fend off any potential lawsuit from San Jose. Toward the end of today's meeting, city officials announced they had no plans to sue the water district over the handling of February's floods.

Despite the heated debate on display during parts of the joint meeting, the city council and the water district board both expressed a desire to move forward and come up with solutions to benefit the community. The two sides have also hired an independent consultant to prepare an "after-action report" which is due by May 24th.

Residents are just hoping the two sides can get their act together for the good of the community.

Related Topics:
weatherfloodingflash floodingrainstorm damagestormwindwind damageSan Jose
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