Contra Costa residents watch flood-prone areas

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January 18, 2010 6:47:05 PM PST
Residents in Contra Costa County are nervously watching some trouble spots that are prone to flooding in heavy rains. There are a couple of troubling issues in Martinez.

The Alhambra Creek in Martinez is flowing pretty well and there are not any immediate flooding concerns there thanks to a fix called a "beaver deceiver" that seems to be working, but in West Contra Costa County, residents of one flood-prone neighborhood are still waiting for a fix that is not in.

The Cardenas' family home is always the first one to flood on Lettia Road, thanks to a long-standing drainage problem that still has not been fixed.

"I think it should have been fixed by now. We thought they had kind of fixed it because it's been raining off and on and it would go away, but this morning it was back up," says Miguel Cardenas, a San Pablo resident.

This time a public works crew arrived, hoses and pump in hand, just in time to spare the Cardenas' home.

However, In February 2009, the Cardenas family was not so lucky as several inches of filthy storm water filled their home.

"Well here we are again," says Attorney Mister Phillips.

Phillips is suing Contra Costa County on behalf of residents, who say this problem dates back 15 years.

"This is something that continues to happen. We're out here year after year. The storm drains really need to be repaired in this area," says Phillips.

The county blames a private developer for failing to clean the silt and debris out of a culvert that runs to the bay. While the parties litigate, the county promises to defend the homes.

"The county is prepared through its public works crews to pump the water to keep the homes from being flooded," says Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia.

In a contrast to those flooding problems, in Martinez, a device call the "beaver deceiver" seems to be doing its job.

In 2008, an expert from Vermont installed the device -- to prevent a beaver family from rebuilding a tall dam -- that could cause flooding in the downtown area.

"The beaver deceiver is working fine. Man and nature have found an answer and they're cohabitating just fine. The beaver shave several dams in a row and this is the main dam and it's been kept at its normal level that we had hoped for and the whole system is working," says Mark Ross from the Martinez City Council.

Still, residents and officials will keep a close eye on Alhambra Creek, since a problem could arise from consecutive days of heavy rain and high tides.