SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Emails sent before the storm that devastated parts of San Jose with flooding show city leaders knew it was going to be a disaster.
It’s the question that haunts victims of the storm: Could last week’s catastrophic floods have been predicted?
As water spilled out of Anderson Reservoir for the first time in a decade, a water district employee tried to sound the alarm, warning in an email on Sunday February 19, 2017 that eventually got the attention of San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo that she was “pretty sure” the Rocksprings neighborhood “will flood” in the approaching storm.
But the mayor’s social media message seemed to downplay the threat. He posted on Nextdoor that same night, “…the ongoing release of Anderson Dam water could result in episodes of local flooding…”
And the water district’s official advisory on the eve of the storm was equally nonchalant, warning of “incidental flooding” along the Coyote watershed.
Liccardo said, “We’re really just focused on how we can prevent this in the future. And regardless of who provided what data, we know than Rocksprings is prone to flood. And over the next three months, we have more rain coming.”
San Jose city leaders have candidly admitted they were caught off guard when Rocksprings began to flood. In part, because the water district assured in emails that the creek could handle the water being released from Anderson Dam and the rain that followed.
But hours into the flooding, from which more than 350 people were rescued, the mayor laid bare his frustration in an email with a member of his communications department, writing, “They were all wrong.”