San Jose to keep temporary flood victim shelter open through April 5

The San Jose City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to pay a non-profit organization $247,000 to keep a temporary shelter for victims of last month’s floods open at least until April 5.  About 180 people have been staying at the shelter, housed at the Seven Trees community center, since floods displaced them from their homes on February 21. 

Meanwhile, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is lashing out at the Santa Clara Valley Water District, accusing the agency of not cooperating with efforts to identify what went wrong in predicting the timing and severity of the floods, which were the city’s worst in two decades.  He accused the board director, John Varela, of not attending a March 9th council meeting to discuss the matter.

“If they’re not going to take responsibility for this, then we will,” Liccardo told KTVU.

More than 14,000 people were forced to evacuate when floods overtook their homes, and Liccardo has admitted that a breakdown in communication between the city and the water district resulted in a failure to give adequate warning to those living in the flood zone. 

“If [the water district is] not showing up to our hearings and not talking to our staff, then we are out of options and need to hire the engineers ourselves and we’ll do that if that’s what it takes,” Liccardo said.

On Monday, Liccardo sent a stern letter to Varela, criticizing the district for providing “inaccurate water district data” and “repeatedly flawed estimates of flooding risk.”

Varela met Tuesday behind closed doors with other board members, and was not available for an interview.  In a letter to the mayor, however, he responded to Liccardo’s accusations, saying, “We are interested in facts, not blame, which only serves to dishonor those who have been harmed and displaced by the flood waters.”