San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood facing the aftermath of heavy weekend rain

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019
SF neighborhood facing the aftermath of heavy weekend rain
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City officials say they received over 400 calls over the weekend about flooding's all across the city, but at least 12 homes in West Portal neighborhood were impacted by rain waters and residents are not happy with the city's response.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- At least 12 homes in the West Portal neighborhood were impacted by flooding on Saturday. City officials say they received over 400 calls over the weekend about flooding's all across the city.

"I have PTSD when it rains. I'm not sleeping well every time it rains. I wake up at the sound of rain," said flood victim, Roque Ballesteros.

The heavy downpour had nowhere to go once it hit Wawona Street and 15th Avenue.

Water was gushing out from underneath homes and sewage spread across Wawona Street.

RELATED: Video shows intense downpours turn SF streets, Muni stairs into rivers

"She was wearing a hazmat suit to suck up the stuff in this intersection. That stuff was a foot deep in my master bedroom," Sonia Ballesteros, a flood victim said. "Why am I not wearing a hazmat suit? I asked her if she's coming in and she said she has not time."

Two days after the storm and West Portal residents are dealing with the aftermath inside and outside of their homes.

Christine Totah had to throw away boxes full of photo albums that got wet when her basement flooded.

"There could be mold that's going to grow. I don't know if it's wet around here," said Totah pointing to a back wall in her garage.

SF Public Works says they had crews working over the weekend but they only deal with what's on the surface.

"On Saturday our crews came out with a sweeping truck and cleared the debris after the incident. We also had crews today cleaning up," said Jennifer Blot with SF Public Works.

RELATED: 'It's destroyed': West Portal homes flooded during heavy rain

We questioned The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission about Saturday's flood. The SFPUC is responsible for drains and areas prone to flooding and said the West Portal neighborhood flooded because the drain system was not big enough.

SFPUC's Tyler Gamble says they have a plan, "we are in the design phase of a program that will increase the size of the storm drain system in that neighborhood. We expect that to begin in 2021. That will bring it to the level of service of a 5 year storm."

Meanwhile, West Portal's supervisor Norman Yee said in a statement to ABC7 news:

"This flooding is devastating - it's the holidays and instead of getting ready for their families and celebrations, residents are trying to deal with raw sewage and flooded homes. The City has to do more and it has to speed up implementing the $700 million that we already allocated to make improvements to upgrade our storm drains and sewer systems because clearly, our system cannot handle the changes that are happening because of climate change. These rains won't stop anytime soon. The City also has funds for homeowners to make changes to help make their homes more resilient and we need to get those resources into their hands as soon as possible. Two years ago, I legislated mandatory flood mapping by the City so that residents would be made more aware of the risks if they were living in a flood risk area - we also legislated mandatory notification to renters and to buyers if the property is in a high-risk flood area. Public Works staff and Public Utilities Commission staff are on the scene and have been working over the weekend to help clean drains and mitigate damage but we need to do more."

Answers that are not good enough for some flood victims.

Totah said, "my biggest concern is that this neighborhood gets ignored and taken for granted. That is not right..."