Storm clean-up workers take pride in helping South Bay community after severe atmospheric rivers

Dustin Dorsey Image
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Storm clean-up workers take pride in helping South Bay community
Valley Water, San Jose city workers take pride in helping the community clean up after severe atmospheric rivers.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- You've seen some of the damage that has been caused due to storms in 2023, but do you know who is behind cleaning it up? It is the responsibility of storm clean-up crews to keep up with the demands of the busy Bay Area storm season.

Not even sunshine and blue skies mean a break for storm clean-up crews - no days off.

"It's definitely the time that we've got to catch up," Valley Water Field Construction Supervisor Feliciano Aguilar said. "We cover the whole county. Everybody that came in here, knew we were disaster service workers, we respond to floods. Some folks run away, we go towards it."

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In 2023, there has been plenty to go towards for the 32 maintenance workers at Valley Water.

Cleaning up storm damage nearly every day of the New Year and putting in plenty of hours as a result.

"Earlier in January, we were going 24/7, two 12-hour shifts, just responding to anything that was coming into the emergency office," Aguilar said. "It's definitely been a challenge. After all the drought, to get into these heavy, heavy rains."

"This year has been pretty bad," Valley Water Maintenance Worker Ryan Sato said. "High water levels, high flow and quite a bit of trees down since it's been fairly windy and everything has been saturated right now."

VIDEO: Glass falls from SF skyscraper after window broken due to intense wind gusts

Video shows broken window glass falling from San Francisco high-rise on 555 California Street during Tuesday's intense wind gusts.

Rain leads to flooded roads, clogged storm drains, potholes and snapped trees - the San Jose Department of Transportation's responsibility.

DOT Assistant Arborist Mark Frazier was responding to a broken tree limb hanging over a sidewalk when we caught up with him Monday. There's never a slow day.

"It's been a lot this year," Frazier said. "We've got a lot of rain storms, which is good that we're getting the rain, we certainly need it with the drought. But, it's kept us very busy."

Frazier has been putting in 16-hour days at times throughout the storms, but he says he does it for his community.

"We want to be that resource that the community is safe and that we're addressing all issues properly," Frazier said.

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Senior Maintenance Worker Blaise Olguin has a similar feeling. He's working his last year at Valley Water and still grinding it out despite already being at retirement age.

He takes pride in his work and says will miss it.

"I enjoy working for the Water District for 40 years," Olguin said. "It's part of what I like doing. Helping the community out, being there when the community looks at us to get these waterways clear. That's what we do. It's part of our job."

I think it's safe to say the entire community is thankful for that job well done.

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