Santa Clara levees being threatened by approaching storm

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Residents in the Santa Clara County area are being warned to be proactive instead of reactive when preparing for the severe weather heading to the Bay Area over the weekend. Rivers and levees in the area have a history of flooding and runoffs during heavy rain.

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In Gilroy, flooding already closed a dip in Miller Avenue near Christmas Hill Park, which is the site of the annual Garlic Festival. That same creek forced dozens of residents to evacuate the Thousand Trails RV Park just west of Morgan Hill. "The rising river would pose a danger to the bridge, and there's no other way to get in and out of there," said Jay Samples a resident of the RV Park. "So if there's an emergency with the bridge down, they wouldn't be able to help anyone in there, which is why everybody's got to leave."

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This wouldn't be the first time the facility flooded; the most recent was just last March. For now, residents are finding alternative places to park their RV's. "We've sandbagged already. We're taking precautions. For now, I think we're at the higher ground. Most of our neighbors are above ground as well," said Russell McGillicuddy who lives on a five-acre property not far from the Thousand Trails RV Park.

Right now, sandbags are in high demand. "I'd rather do it now than when it's pouring rain and be ahead of the game," said Shaun Pennington who works in Morgan Hill. The Santa Clara Valley Water District is helping to distribute sandbags out to residents.

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Further south levees that protect Watsonville from the Pajaro River are being closely watched by experts. "There are some levees in the south part of the country on the Pajaro River that are old, old levees that probably wouldn't meet today's standards for levee materials," said Bruce Laclegur the county flood control manager.

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The levees in Watsonville were built 67 years ago and they've failed several times in the past. Plans to rebuild them have been stalled so residents can only hope they'll survive this weekend's downpour.

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