Toxic, difficult flood cleanup begins for San Jose families

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Wading through the murky, muddy waters of San Jose is a difficult task for families looking to salvage their homes and possessions after the major floods. (KGO-TV)

The flood waters may be gone, but the clean-up is just beginning for the thousands of people who were forced from their homes.

RESOURCES: San Jose flood evacuation info and how to help

Late Thursday, the city reduced the scope of the San Jose evacuation area, however; some people are still not allowed back in their homes including residents in the Rock Springs area and the old Oakland Road Area.

Junk piles line 19th Street and continue to grow. They're filled with stuff that can't be saved. Many families are getting help with the overwhelming cleanup.

Toxic flood water ruined almost everything it touched.

"We started cleaning out the garage and moving the furniture and see what we could salvage and what was not," said Sue Evanicky.

Evanicky and her friends did as much as they could by themselves, but this can be dangerous work.

"I'm seeing oil, paint, toilets are flooded out so there's tons of sewage," saiD Jacob Estrada of Environmental Plus and Restoration Specialists. "Personal protective gear is mandatory here, respirators."

The company has dozens of workers in the flooded neighborhoods. The first priority is pumping out the water from 12 homes on 19th Street alone. Next, they'll clear out the debris.

"We can still try our best to decontaminate and disinfect, but for the majority of it, it's pretty much a total loss," Estrada told ABC7 News.

The city of San Jose will be providing dumpsters in the William Street and Rock Springs neighborhoods starting Friday morning.

"Folks who are within the flooded area can use those dumpsters and we will continue to monitor how that process is going so we can continue to support," said Robert Sapien.
RELATED: Flood evacuations reduced in San Jose, major damage remains

In the meantime it's neighbor helping neighbor. "This is all just stuff," said Evanicky. "It can or cannot be replaced. You just got to let go."

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