San Francisco taken by surprise over weekend’s floods

San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood is drying out and beginning the cleanup process after major flooding over the weekend. Neighbors near 15th Avenue and Wawona Street are still surveying the damage and drying out. "You can see the water line right there in the corners, went about two inches up the side," said West Portal resident Steve Wood.

Wood was out of town over the weekend and came home to a mess. 

"When I got home today, there was, my whole downstairs was full of sewage and leaves and debris that came up through the toilets and shower."

On Saturday the rain poured down, heavier than anticipated, flooding the streets in this low-lying area.            

Wood said he's preparing for the next storm, hiring a contractor to put a one way valve in his sewer drain hoping to keep the flood waters out next time. "Well I'm going to do a back flush valve. That will work a little bit probably, and then I'm going to bug the city about taking care of the problem."

Public Utilities crews spent the day vacuuming drains and clearing grates to prepare for the next storm.

The city saying forecast models predicted a half inch of rain. 

"We saw a lot more rain than a half inch, obviously," said Tyler Gamble from the SFPUC. "Across the city, areas, we heard reports of over an inch in under an hour. Which would be overwhelming for anywhere in the system."

The city says it cleared grates and drains before and during the storm and responded to about 400 reports of street flooding over the weekend.

Long term, the city is saying global climate change means there will likely mean more intense storms to come. "We do anticipate in the future we're going to see more of these storms," said Gamble. "They're going to be more intense, they're going to be different throughout different areas of San Francisco and we're going to have to continue to adapt."

The city says it does have a long-term construction project in the design phase for the West Portal area. They are anticipating breaking ground on the two-year project in 2021.

Meanwhile, the city is urging resident to take advantage of a grant program to prepare homes for flooding, telling property owners to take advantage of sandbags and low cost flood insurance.