State OES tours flood-ravaged San Jose

A team of state investigators assessed the damage today, in some of San Jose’s flood-ravaged neighborhoods.

It’s the first step in the process of providing much needed relief for flood-weary victims.

In Rock Springs, the familiar groan of engines as crews used industrial loaders to scoop debris from street curbsides.

This, as representatives from the state Office of Emergency services took the first step toward sending relief funds, by touring the flood-damaged areas.

"[To] get an idea of how much individual assistance may be needed to help the residents that are impacted with this incident," said David Cruise, the state regional administrator for the Office of Emergency Services.
One of those residents in need of help is Hein Nguyen. She walked us through her now empty apartment on Welch Avenue. It's been ruined by chest-deep waters last month.

"I'm so frustrated because I'm a 70-year-old woman and to face that flood disaster is terrible, horrible," she said, her voice cracking with emotion. "If we receive a warning a night ahead, we can prepare something, but, nothing,” said Nguyen.

Elected leaders and staffers have taken their lumps the past two weeks over the lack of advanced notice. Democrat mayor Sam Liccardo says revamping the warning system is at the top of the fix list.

"We're putting an action plan together now to address the most urgent needs in improving our warnings and notification system to our residents," said Liccardo from his office in City Hall. 

"Clearly what we saw with this flood, that's our most urgent need."

Part of that action plan includes the recent hiring of a new deputy emergency services director. The city had been using an interim person in the position. But Ray Riordan takes the day-to-day reigns starting next Monday..

"What happened? How did it get to where it is and what do we need to do to make it not happen in the future?" said Riordan, via a smartphone video call.

He says his first step will be performing his own after action review of the worst flooding San Jose has seen in two decades.

"We may never be able to eliminate it," said Riordan, adding, "but it's really, how can we lesson this and how can we work more collaboratively so that when a message is delivered, we understand what the message is."

Riordan and other city leaders say their collective focus is on communicating with residents in a crisis. The county has what's called I-paws, an electronic federal system that county have access to it, but that's not widely used.

The system works like the ones used for weather alerts— circle an area on map and calls go out to everyone who has a cell phone in that area.

The 911 system that's already available in the county works for landlines and residents would need to register their cell phones, which might be redundant since the county already has Alert SCC.

In that system, residents register their numbers for that as well, but only three percent of the two million count residents have done so.
In the short term, county officials want to get the word out for people to go to the county website -- and register your cell phone so you'll get notified in case of emergency.