SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – South Bay families who lost everything in the February flooding that did extensive damage in a San Jose neighborhood on Thursday said it’s time for those responsible to pay up.
It’s been five months since flood waters from Coyote Creek swamped a San Jose neighborhood. Debris is still piled high on some streets corners and many residents are still without a home.
At the height of the flooding, 14,000 residents were forced from their residences and sent to live in temporary housing.
On Thursday, a number of residents filed claims with the city and county with the hopes that it will lead to a lawsuit. They say they feel ignored and blame San Jose and Santa Clara County officials.
“We did lose everything,” said flood victim Juanita Wilson. “We had no warning and it was a little disconcerting that we came to find out that the animals had been rescued and move somewhere else and we were not even given the decency of a warning.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has admitted that the city failed to provide adequate warning to people about the likelihood of the flood and that more should have been done.
“It’s good to hear some acknowledgement that they could have done more and they could have done it a whole lot sooner,” said attorney Amanda Hawes who is representing some of the flood victims.
Hawes said some of those who were displaced still need a stable place to call home.
“Until people have been compensated for what they’ve lost as a result of having no warning, there’s more to do,” explained Hawes.
Hawes also said some people who had direct contact with flood water have had persistent respiratory and skin issues since the late February flooding.
Since the March floods, San Jose city leaders have talked about a plan to extend flood walls and levees a few miles upstream of Coyote Creek in order to prevent this level of flooding from happening again.
Residents who live where it flooded remain skeptical. They told KPIX 5 the potential for catastrophic flooding has always been there.
But long-range plans to protect the area that were considered more than a decade ago were determined to be too big and too expensive by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and, therefore, never carried out.
The city of San Jose estimates the flooding caused $73 million in damage.