SAN JOSE (BCN) — Crews pumping floodwater back into Coyote Creek and inspecting thousands of evacuated homes in San Jose have “made a lot of progress” Thursday afternoon, assistant city manager Dave Sykes said in a news conference.
“The goal here is to get as many residents back into their homes as possible, as soon as possible,” Sykes said.
The Riverbend Mobile Home Park on Oakland Road and an apartment building at South 12th and Keyes streets have both been cleared for reentry.
Mandatory evacuation zones have shrunk from 14,000 to under 3,800 people, assistant city manager Dave Sykes said. Fewer than 1,080 homes, down from 4,000, remain under mandatory evacuation.
“By Sunday we’ll be able to get a lot of people into their homes, but not all of them,” Sykes said.
On Tuesday, City Council will ratify a proclamation of local emergency, which expires every seven days.
The South Bay and Golden Wheel mobile home parks on Oakland Road are still under evacuation, as are all of the 347 homes evacuated in Rock Springs.
Assistant fire Chief Robert Sapien said Thursday afternoon that all three parks were “pretty much dry” following pumping operations. State inspectors and PG&E crews will work to restore gas and electricity to the parks. Riverbend is already back online, Sapien said, so officials are working to alert residents that they can return to their homes.
Inspectors are working with residents and fire and PG&E crews to determine which homes in the William Street area are safe to be occupied, Sapien said.
The map on the city’s storm update website is updated “minute by minute” as homes are cleared for reentry, the assistant fire chief said.
Crews have been cleaning the streets in the Rock Springs neighborhood, making “great progress” to lower water levels and temporarily replace the flooded sanitary pump station with an auxiliary pumping process,
In the meantime, crews will continue to work on fixing the permanent sanitary pump to restore sewage service in the area.
City officials will distribute dumpsters to the Rock Springs and William Street areas on Friday so that victims can dispose of items that have come in contact with floodwater, Sapien said.
“We’re going to ask that people presume that the floodwaters were contaminated,” Sapien said, advising the use of gloves and washing hands when touching floodwater or items contaminated by it.
After heavy storms last week, the scattered showers forecast by the National Weather Service for the weekend are “good news” for cleanup efforts, Sykes said.
Police are patrolling flood-affected areas, but have not gone so far as to set up checkpoints, Sapien said. Some residents have chosen not to heed mandatory evacuation warnings and are moving freely in and out.
When asked about the limited warning that residents received about flooding in the area, Sykes said that officials would assess the effectiveness of the warning system in the near future.
“We put out a lot of alerts, and we did do a lot of door-knocking,” Sykes said. “There will be a time for us to review what happened.”
Officials are not currently assessing the environmental implications of pumping fuel- and potentially sewage-contaminated water back into the creek, Sykes admitted.
The assistant city manager said he had no reason to believe that the creek sensors were out of order, but said their maintenance is not the city’s responsibility.Sykes wavered on whether the creek had not been adequately cleared out before the flood.
“We saw a lot of debris in the creek,” Sykes said, but added “I don’t think we could really expect to be able to clear the creek enough to create capacity for a 100-year flow.”
The overnight shelters operated by the Red Cross and the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services that early Thursday morning were housing 144 people at James Lick High School and 10 people at Evergreen Valley High School will have to move before students return to school on Monday.
City officials will announce the location of the new shelters “well before Monday,” Sykes said. Pets should be taken to the San Jose Animal Shelter at 2750 Monterey Road.
Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone urged property owners who may have suffered $10,000 or more in flood damage to read about the calamity property tax relief program and download the claim form at sccassessor.org.
A local assistance center with booths offering resources from the city, the county, the Red Cross and other agencies to residents and businesses affected by the flooding will open at the Shirakawa Community Center at 2072 Lucretia Ave. on Saturday, Sykes said.
The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Shirakawa and Mayfair community centers stopped serving as evacuation centers Wednesday evening due to lack of need.
City officials are “exploring every opportunity” for state and federal relief funding, Sykes said, estimating the damage at millions of dollars.
Officials are compiling damage estimates to submit for state and federal disaster relief funding next week.
Items like clothing for flood victims are not needed, but financial donations for their recovery can be made to the Red Cross at redcross.org/donate/donation or the Silicon Valley Community Foundation at sanjosemayor.org, city officials said.