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By Henrietta J. Burroughs              Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                         Facebook    Twitter         Blog    
Tuesday, January 15, 2013               
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Photo of East Palo Alto City Council during its Jan. 15, 2013 meeting       Photo of creek warning signs
Photo taken from the Media Center's         Photo by Uhila Makoni
web stream of the council meeting         Creek warning signs

The East Palo Alto City council voted unanimously at its regular meeting on January 15 to continue the resolution it approved that declared a local emergency in the city in the aftermath of severe flooding that occurred last December.

The emergency declaration was originally approved by the council on January 3 after an unusually heavy rainfall caused the San Francisquito creek to overflow and engulf several East Palo Alto neighborhoods on December 23.

The breech of the levees along the creek, resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of the city’s residents living in East Palo Alto near Daphne Way and Verbena Streets, as well as in the University and Woodland areas of the city, west of Highway 101.

In the aftermath of the flooding, East Palo Alto received county and state assistance to maintain the integrity of the levee that ensured sufficient height to prevent future flooding. Since city officials considered these measures to be only a temporary fix to address the immediate flooding problem, they sent their emergency declaration to Gov. Brown requesting that the governor’s office concur with the city’s emergency assessment and provide $2,627,000 in financial assistance to cover the original damage to city facilities and the cleanup that was required.

Kathleen Kane, the city’s attorney, made the case for the continuation of the emergency declaration. During the council meeting, she stated that while the immediate flooding emergency was over, the damage to the creek bank and the levee still existed so the emergency declaration should stay in effect.

Kane stated that the city had received assistance from State Senator Jerry Hill and Assembly member Rich Gordon to assist the city in navigating through state channels (View the letter here that Hill and Gordon wrote to Gov. Brown on East Palo Alto’s behalf.).

Kane said that Congresswoman Jackie Speier was assisting the city to navigate through federal channels. She also reported that other assessments for funding and assistance were still being made since there were overlapping state, county and federal jurisdictions.

Kane ended her remarks by requesting that the public observe and respect the warning signs, which alerted those traveling in and around the creek to the danger that they faced walking along the creek bank.

John Doughty, the city’s community development director, updated the council on the work performed last week by the California Conservation Corps, which worked for two days to fill and place 4,000 sandbags along the levee to make it more secure. He also talked about the upcoming meetings the city staff had with the Army Corps of Engineers and other county and state departments to remove trees and debris to make the creek bed and the leeves safer.

Before the vote on continuing the emergency declaration, East Palo Alto’s City Manager, Magda Gonzalez, commended the city staff for the duties that individual staff members performed during and since the flooding in their effort “to do the best job for the community.” She said that the flooding emergency had overshadowed the regular daily tasks that the staff would ordinarily perform and had become a staff priority.

Mayor Ruben Abrica announced that a public meeting is set for Monday, January 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the East Palo Alto Municipal building for the residents of the flooded areas to give the city their input.


Henrietta J. Burroughs, the author of this article can be contacted at epatoday@epatoday.org


Other East Palo Alto Today articles:

The December floods lead city officials to consider an emergency proclamation

Emergency efforts are underway to fix damaged creek levee

American Red Cross opens evacuation center for East Palo Alto residents displaced by flooding