Storm puts San Jose on flood watch
Submerged cars near William Street Park in San Jose after the February 2017 flood. File photo.

    As the South Bay braces for a storm being fueled by an atmospheric river this weekend, San Jose residents are on alert for potential flooding.

    San Jose should expect up to half of an inch of rain overnight Friday and up to one inch Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. The weather service has issued a flood watch through this time period. Meteorologist Rick Canepa said San Jose could see flooding and some shallow landslides along waterways.

    “We’re expecting rain to increase tonight and tomorrow morning,” Canepa told San José Spotlight. “Rivers, streams and creeks are all going to rise.”

    Canepa expects the water along major creeks such as at Coyote Creek to rise, but not to an alarming level.

    Valley Water spokesperson Mark Gomez said the agency is working to clear debris to prevent flooding along the most concerning areas, and is providing free sandbags for residents. Valley Water doesn’t expect flooding along larger waterways or the Anderson Dam, but Gomez said people living near smaller urban creeks and streams should be cautious.

    “The water could rise quickly in those areas, depending on how that atmospheric river comes through,” Gomez told San José Spotlight.

    The last time San Jose saw major flooding was in 2017, when heavy rainfall caused the Anderson Dam in South San Jose to overflow. The flood caused approximately $100 million in damages and displaced 14,000 residents in neighborhoods around Coyote Creek, including Naglee Park, Rock Springs and the South Bay Mobile Home Park.

    Valley Water agreed to an $8.25 million settlement with hundreds of flood victims earlier this year. San Jose also paid victims $750,000 in a separate settlement.

    Since the 2017 flood, Valley Water has started a new earthquake retrofit project at the dam to help release more water from the area during storms or emergencies. The reservoir is currently at about 3% of its approximately 90,000 acre-feet capacity. The agency is also working to reduce flood risks from rising sea levels in North San Jose’s Alviso neighborhood.

    As residents prepare their homes ahead of the weekend storm, homeless advocate Shaunn Cartwright is spending Friday alerting unhoused residents along waterways and urging them to move out of the area. She has gone to numerous camps this week to hand out tents, tarps and blankets to help people get through the cold conditions.

    More than 10,000 people are homeless in Santa Clara County, with at least 75% of them living without any shelter. San Jose has two overnight warming locations open, but the 50 available beds are not meeting the needs, advocates said.

    Cartwright worries more homeless people will die during the storm. Santa Clara County saw 246 homeless deaths this past year following a record number of 250 deaths in 2021.

    “People are freezing out there,” Cartwright told San José Spotlight. “We can’t get people out of danger fast enough.”

    To sign up for Santa Clara County’s emergency alert system, click here. To sign up for Valley Water’s alert system, click here.

    To find free sandbags, click here. Residents can also report blockages in waterways and spills by calling Valley Water’s watershed hotline at 408-630-2378.

    Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on Twitter.

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