San Jose officials prepare to hear from resident on flood response during town hall meeting

David Louie Image
ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Elderly woman being carried into a rescue boat on Feb. 21, 2017.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- There will be a lot of noise this afternoon as the San Jose City Council holds a special session at 3 p.m. to get input from flood victims and others over the Coyote Creek flood that caught residents and first responders by surprise the morning of Feb. 21.

It will be a time for victims for vent, for staff to provide analysis and explanations, and for taking steps for improvement.

Mayor Sam Liccardo and his fellow council members are focused on developing an action plan to improve notification and alerts, storm monitoring and flood prevention.

RESOURCES: San Jose flood evacuations information and how to help

The Mayor has taken responsibility for the failure to provide early warning to residents of Rocksprings to evacuate.

While ABC7 News was on-scene at Nordale Avenue about 9:45 am that day, we showed first responders rescuing people in boats in fast-rising, contaminated floodwaters that quickly inundated homes and submerged cars to the roof line.

However, the city did not send out an evacuation order for Coyote Creek until 1:44 p.m., according to records verified by the Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Services.

County OES sends out such alerts on behalf of San Jose and other cities.

A preliminary report written by City Manager Norberto Duenas and his staff, released late last night and directed to the City Council, makes the following assessment:

- The City accepts responsibility for not giving adequate and timely notice to San Jose residents and businesses about the potential for flooding on Coyote Creek and the need to evacuate.

- The City relied on data from the SCVWD (Santa Clara Valley Water District) that was fundamentally flawed.

- The City and SCVWD need to improve early warning notifications so that residents can better prepare for potential flooding and evacuation.

- The City did not have effective means to communicate in a timely manner with our most vulnerable residents, including Spanish and Vietnamese speakers and people who lack access to the internet or mobile devices.

- The City immediately planned and executed an effective, multi-faceted recovery process following the flood.

- To make sure this doesn't happen again, SCVWD must accept responsibility to protect the communities of Santa Clara County from floodwater and stormwater in the district.

Initial estimates of damage from the Coyote Creek flood, which impacted three neighborhoods, was pegged at $73 million.

We'll be covering the 3 p.m. hearing for ABC7 News at 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00 today.

Click here to read the entire memo sent by the San Jose City Manager.

Click here to download the ABC7 News App to get your weather forecast on the go. And make sure you enable push alerts for immediate notifications and severe weather alerts.