East Palo Alto officials announced Wednesday that the city will seek $2.7 million to repair and shore up a dirt levee that was breached and flooded over during last month's torrential storms.
"I want to reassure all of the residents along San Francisquito Creek that the work that we did ... has been paying off and it's holding up and there's no immediate danger along the creek," Mayor Ruben Abrica said at a City Hall news conference. "However ... after further and more thorough assessment we have encountered additional damages, serious damages. So we're concerned about the entire rainy season and we have two or three months left."
In a step necessary to obtain the state's help, Ruben and City Manager Magda Gonzalez signed a proclamation Wednesday officially declaring a local emergency. The city council is expected to ratify it at a special meeting scheduled for tonight.
As a result of heavy rainfall Dec. 23, a swollen San Francisquito Creek flowed over the levee between Verbena Drive and Daphne Way; water also seeped through it and bubbled up from the ground in three areas. Officials ordered seven households to evacuate and encouraged nearby residents to leave as well. The neighborhood, which is at a lower level than the creek, saw water and mud damage to streets, homes and other facilities, according to city officials. Flooding also occurred in areas west of Highway 101, near University and Woodland avenues.
In response, a team
Subsequent inspections have revealed more damage to the levee and creek, including the steepening of a slope, a fallen oak tree south of University Avenue that took out a significant chunk of creek bank, and water-eroded concrete on the University Avenue bridge abutment and the O'Connor Street pump station, city officials said.
Gonzalez said the $2.7 million repair estimate could rise as work and further inspections are done along the creek.
"We've exhausted our local and regional resources in addressing the immediate flood controls and the levee stabilization needs required as a result of this flooding," she said.
The city's finance director, Edmund Suen, said after the meeting that East Palo Alto has spent approximately $115,000 on repairs and would expect to be reimbursed through the $2.7 million emergency grant.
State officials are scheduled to tour the flood-damaged sites today.
About 49 percent of East Palo Alto is within a flood plain, City Attorney Kathleen Kane said before the press conference. "So levee or creek failure would be devastating."
That stretch of San Francisquito Creek is slated to get new floodwalls, but the project is not scheduled to begin until mid-2013.