San Jose crews work to prepare Coyote Creek for winter storms

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- It was only eight months ago when an estimated 14,000 residents of San Jose had to evacuate from their homes and apartments when Coyote Creek flooded several neighborhoods. Winter rain and storms are on the horizon, and work is underway to clear debris from the creek to prevent future flooding.

RELATED: Army Corps of engineers to help assess Coyote Creek for future flood prevention

Crews were working Wednesday morning, clearing 40 species of invasive vegetation along the creek banks that run between several mobile home parks on Oakland Road to the west and the San Jose Municipal Golf Course on the east.

While primarily an environmental project, the removal of a tall grass known as Arundo donax may help to improve the flow of the creek and help to reduce flooding concerns. Arundo donax has its origins in Asia, according to Jennifer Codianne, the integrated vegetation unit manager at the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which is leading the effort.

The Water District has also taken other steps to address flooding concerns by repairing a levee that branches off from a major levee along Coyote Creek and helps to protect residents of nearby mobile home parks. There have also been two major clean-up days in which volunteers and residents and Water District staff helped to remove five and a quarter tons of debris from the creek in the East Williams Street area and the Rock Springs neighborhood, both of which sustained major flooding in February.

RELATED: San Jose crews rescue 5 people from flooding Coyote Creek

Bob Lamb, a resident of the Golden Wheel Mobile Home Park off Oakland Road, is glad to see work being done to prepare for this winter. He has gone through three floods since moving to the park in 1988. Coyote Creek sits behind his home, separated by a levee.

Richard Santos, a member of the Water District's Board of Directors, says there is more to be done. The board has allocated $22 million for flood protection projects.

Santos says Congressional representatives Zoe Lofgren and Ro Khanna, along with state Assembly and Senate members, have pledged to help speed up approvals and bureaucratic red tape to get projects moving. Santos says the Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on a feasibility study to determine what improvements can be made to address flooding along Coyote Creek.

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