‘This happened in my city. I am responsible’: San Jose mayor vows to fix alert issues in flooding
Floodwater surrounds homes in San Jose on Wednesday. Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate their homes as neighborhoods were inundated.(Noah Berger / AFP/Getty Images)
Neighbors talk in front of their homes, which were inundated after Coyote Creek overflowed.(David Butow / For The Times)
Ricardo Juarez, who has lived in this house for six years, works to free his van Wednesday after floodwaters pushed it from its parking spot on 20th Street near Coyote Creek.(David Butow / For The Times)
Floodwaters surround a play structure in San Jose.(Noah Berger / AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Barazza family cleans up after floodwaters receded from their neighborhood near Coyote Creek.(Peter DaSilva / European Pressphoto Agency)
A resident runs down a flooded street near Coyote Creek, which runs through the heart of the city.(Peter DaSilva / European Pressphoto Agency)
Hien Nguyen wades toward her home near Coyote Creek.(Peter DaSilva / European Pressphoto Agency)
Cars are covered by floodwater on Wednesday. The Coyote Creek crested to 13.6 feet at a river gauge point on Tuesday evening in South San Jose — nearly four feet above flood stage, officials said.(Noah Berger / AFP/Getty Images)
On Tuesday, rescuers in chest-deep water steer boats carrying dozens of people, some with babies and pets, from a San Jose neighborhood inundated by water from an overflowing creek.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
A man peers out from the front door of a flooded apartment complex in San Jose.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
A woman is directed to a safe zone after being rescued by boat from a flooded neighborhood in San Jose.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Rescuers travel by boat through a flooded neighborhood looking for stranded residents in San Jose.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
An abandoned car is submerged on a flooded roadway in San Jose, where rains have saturated once drought-stricken California.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Cars are submerged in a flooded neighborhood in San Jose.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Rescue crews escort residents from a flooded neighborhood in San Jose.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
A sign is submerged in the water from Coyote Creek in Morgan Hill. The latest downpours have swelled waterways to flood levels and left about half of California under flood, wind and snow advisories.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Ken Okenquist, right, and his grandson, Keaton Davis, 11, watch the flooding caused by Coyote Creek in Morgan Hill.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo assumed responsibility Friday for failing to properly notify thousands of residents who were forced to flee as floodwaters inundated their neighborhoods this week.
Days after widespread flooding in central San Jose triggered mandatory evacuations for 14,000 residents, Liccardo called for an end to “the bureaucratic finger-pointing.”
“This happened in my city,” the mayor said at a news conference. “I am responsible.”
After weeks of winter rain, the Coyote Creek – which runs through the heart of the city – swelled to record heights and created mass flooding Tuesday.
As neighborhoods were besieged by floodwaters, firefighters paddled on rafts to rescue infants, elderly residents, pets and others trapped in homes, said San Jose firefighters union President Sean Kaldor.
Firefighters rescued homeless residents clinging to tree stubs near the creek’s bank, many holding tightly to plastic bags containing their belongings.
“The water was steadily growing to their waist and would have submerged them shortly,” Kaldor said. “This was fast-moving water.”
The trouble began Saturday, when Santa Clara County’s largest reservoir reached its capacity and water began flowing down its spillway. Heavy rains exacerbated the spill over Sunday night and Monday morning, advancing the flows from Anderson Reservoir into Coyote Creek.
The National Weather Service issued two flood warnings, the first Monday before 4 a.m., the second about 17 hours later, before water started pouring into San Jose homes Tuesday.
But some residents in the William Street area, one of the worst-hit neighborhoods, said they received no warning from the city via cellphone alerts and no local authorities came knocking before floodwaters started rising.
On Friday, Liccardo vowed to fix “whatever problems caused the lack of advance notice” to residents.
He said he would schedule public hearings to talk about the flooding and evacuations.
“The public deserves to get all the information, not just some of it,” Liccardo said.
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