San Jose developing flood warning system for residents

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose residents are still facing the huge task of recovering after being hit by a flood, a flood they say they had no idea was coming. Now the city is promising that their new system will make sure this doesn't happen again.

Help is still out there for flood victims -- the assistance center has moved, it's now at city hall. But San Jose officials have learned preparation and advanced warning could save a lot of damage and heartache.

The Rock Springs neighborhood in San Jose is like a ghost town. Cars flooded on February 21 are stranded in the street, garage doors left open, the only activity is people working on making the homes livable again, including volunteers from Christian Aid Ministries.

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"It's real overwhelming, because every house that had a little bit of water in it all the sheetrock needs to come out two feet up to four feet. All the floor coverings need to come off," said Marshall Miller, Christian Aid Ministries

Reuben Lechuga lives at and manages an apartment complex on Nordale Avenue; he has a graveyard of flooded cars in the back and a skeleton left of a home.

"What's it been like for the past two weeks?" asked ABC7's Matt Keller.

"Like hell," said Lechuga.

Advanced notice would've helped Reuben and thousands of others get valuable property and mementos out of their homes, but that call didn't come in time. San Jose wants to learn from this disaster, so the public works department is developing a "flood threat matrix" which would use information related to reservoir levels and river flows to warn residents up to three days ahead of time.

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It's a three tiered system: level one is a yellow alert, meaning possible flooding; level two is an orange alert -- that means it's likely to flood; and level three is a red alert that means evacuate because of imminent flooding.

"We're hoping with better triggers in place and better understanding how the creek systems work and the conditions that warrant those warnings that we can provide better notice for our residents when the time comes," said David Vossbrink, City of San Jose spokesperson.

The city still needs to get more details on what would trigger those alerts they're scheduled to meet with the water district next month.

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