SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The city of San Jose held its first public hearing Thursday afternoon to discuss its responsibility in the flood that caused an estimated $73 million in damage to public and private property when Coyote Creek inundated several neighborhoods last month.
The 319-seat council chambers were nearly full with members of the public affected by the Feb. 21 flood in addition to city officials, search and rescue firefighters and police.
The city also provided Spanish and Vietnamese translators in a nod to the lack of translation services provided early on in the emergency notifications to affected residents, many of whom are immigrants.
“Clearly we failed as a city to provide adequate warning to thousands of residents about the likelihood of flood,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said.
Assistant city manager Dave Sykes concurred that the city should have issued a general advisory on Feb. 19.
Other areas of failure included what Sykes referred to as an “over-reliance” on “fundamentally flawed” data from the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
The water district estimated that the creek had a channel capacity of 11,510 cubic feet per second in the William Street Park and Selma Olinder neighborhoods. On Feb. 21, it flooded at 5,500 cubic feet per second.
The creek was expected to have a channel capacity of 10,000 cubic feet per second in the area of the Oakland Road mobile home parks that were inundated. In fact, they were flooded at 3,517 cubic feet per second.
In addition to the Anderson Reservoir reaching capacity on Feb. 18 for the first time since 2006 and the region seeing its rainiest season in 20 years, a large downed tree in the Five Wounds neighborhood likely caused elevated creek flows, city officials said.
Officials issued a set of recommendations for its next steps in collaborating with the water district to prevent future floods, including ensuring sandbags are readily available in flooded neighborhoods, install temporary flood walls along the creek and accelerate the Anderson Dam seismic retrofit project, City Council is set to hold a joint meeting with the water district on April 28.
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