EAST PALO ALTO (KCBS)— The Mayor of East Palo Alto has signed an emergency declaration urging the state to help with levee upgrades after heavy rain last month caused flooding damage along the San Francisquito Creek.

Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman didn’t mince words when addressing the flood dangers along the creek.

“What would be the worst case scenario for East Palo Alto is that levee failure. That would be something similar to what we saw in Hurricane Katrina,” he said.

Just before Christmas, heavy rain revealed weaknesses in an earthen levee and forced the evacuation of seven homes near the creek; One was so badly damaged it’s uninhabitable.

East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica said the immediate concern has been taken care of, but that the levees still need long-term improvement. Abrica hopes the state will cover the $2.7 million cost of repairs.

“The sooner the better,” he said since the rain has stopped. “The sooner we get started working on these repairs will be very important to ensure safety for the remainder of the rainy season,” said the mayor.

Abrica’s local emergency declaration will be presented to the City Council for ratification Thursday night.

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