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San Francisco Bay Area community news

Floods plague San Carlos businesses

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Beth Winegarner
Daily News Staff Writer
January 6, 2006

San Carlos Chamber of Commerce President Sheryl Pomerenk has spent much of this week removing flood-soaked carpets from her offices and moving the agency’s belongings into storage.

The chamber headquarters, located on South Laurel Street near El Camino Real, has flooded five times in the past three years — including twice since Christmas, Pomerenk said. By Tuesday, it will have new vinyl floors that should fare better when the storms come again.

“We can sweep the water out, and it will dry faster,” she said.

This week, Pomerenk sent all of her staff members home to work on projects, and even had to turn down new members because everything was packed up. Replacing the flooring will cost $6,000, but she couldn’t estimate the cost to move belongings in and out of the building or to hire blowers to dry the walls.

“It’s so frustrating,” she said. “You don’t know who to blame, what to do, or how to pay for it.”

After 18 inches of water swamped the building in late 2004, San Carlos public works crews installed a backflow valve on the stormwater drain at Laurel Street and Saint Francis Way. The chamber office didn’t flood for some time after that, even though rains were heavier in January and February.

“It was designed to keep the creek water at high tide from coming back up the drain and down the street, and that has been working very well,” said Public Works Supervisor Paul Baker. But when the city gets a high tide combined with too much rain — as it did on Monday — only so much can be done.

Baker said the areas hardest hit by the New Year’s storms included parts of eastern San Carlos, particularly along Industrial Road. Kindercourt, a child-care center that recently moved into the former State Farm office on Laurel Street, also flooded, according to Pomerenk. Kindercourt officials would not comment.

San Carlos officials continue to work toward obtaining permits from the federal government to perform ongoing cleanup of vegetation and debris along flood-prone Cordilleras Creek, San Carlos Public Works Director Parviz Mokhtari told the Daily News last November.

Even so, public works crews must work constantly during storms to keep drains and catch basins clear of leaves, according to Baker.

“Even if it isn’t high tide, they plug things up,” he said. “We had guys on all the creeks, and we were very fortunate this last storm (that) we were able to keep the creeks from going over.”

This article originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily News.

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Written by Beth Winegarner

January 6, 2006 at 9:49 PM

Posted in San Carlos

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