Regional News

Changes made since San Jose’s Coyote Creek flood

February 22, 2018 10:56 am

POSTED: FEB 21 2018 06:51PM PST


Exactly one year after the Coyote Creek flood in San Jose, officials highlighted multiple changes made in the last year and announced a new partnership.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District announced a unique new agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the problematic area from Anderson Reservoir to Coyote Creek.

While the water officials are still looking for Congress funding that, they also outlined several changes they hope will keep residents safer when the next flood hits.
One example is a new 400-foot long aluminum and vinyl fence near Rock Springs Park and a 500-foot earthen berm.
The two barriers built along Coyote Creek in the last year aim to protect the neighborhood from flooding again.

“The wall is basically designed to keep the water in the creek,” said Kevin Sibley, a civil engineer with the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
Looking back, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told KTVU the night before the flood, “Our biggest concern right now is the water being released from Anderson Dam. We know that sometime during Tuesday morning it will probably hit the peak flow and we’re concerned about communities along Coyote.”

About 14 hours later, residents in the Rock Springs neighborhood woke up to find their neighborhood streets under water.

The flood forced 14,000 residents from their homes and $100-million dollars in damage.

The City of San Jose admitted its communication failed and after initially criticizing the Santa Clara Valley Water District for bad creek data projections, the two agencies have since come together.

“I think the leadership of Mayor Liccardo, the council, our water district, the county, all the emergency people together our meetings we had, meetings with the community, we listened, we partnered, we were committed all of us to doing a good job,” said Richard Santos, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Chair Director.

Santos said not only has the district built two new barriers in the Rock Springs neighborhood, it’s kept Anderson Reservoir levels lower this year, removed up to 16 acres of invasive plants which can back up creek flows, and added new flood markers.

“Out in the river now we have markers where people can actually see the level of the creek where it’s at…so we can get more warning ahead of time which we did not have the capability of at that time,” said San Jose Director of Emergency Management Ray Riordan.

City Council members say there are still 18 families forced out by the floods who still need permanent housing but finding an affordable option has been challenging.

“Where are we gonna go? I don’t know. I’ve lived here my whole life. So I’m a little frustrated,” said flood victim Glenda Anderson.

The City of San Jose says it now has 2 alert systems available including one similar to an amber alert which can automatically be sent to cell phones in a specified area.

The city also bought portable speakers so crews could drive through neighborhoods and make announcements in several languages.

But city leaders say at a recent community meeting, residents said their number one way they want to be notified in the future is by cell phone.