San Jose

Six Coyote Creek Flood Victims File Claims, Seek Compensation For Damage and Loss Incurred

Nearly five months after Coyote Creek flooded parts of San Jose, six victims have filed claims over losses incurred.

Each one is seeking compensation, ranging from $25,000 to $150,000, from the city of San Jose, county of Santa Clara and Santa Clara Valley Water District. Claims are a legal prerequisite to filing a lawsuit if the parties don't settle.

The six residents' attorney, Amanda Hawes, has made herself available to take on other claims. She told NBC Bay Area that she plans to file at least another 30. 

The flood victims argue that more should have been done to warn people who live in the flood-prone areas and protect them. 

"In many cases, people are really just trying to get back what they lost," victim Gordon Smith said. "You’re talking about really, you know, poor people who didn’t do anything wrong. It’s worth it to them to settle. More importantly, it’s worth it to them to make sure that this doesn’t happen again."

In February, thousands of people had to evacuate their homes as the rain-swollen Anderson Reservoir caused Coyote Creek to overflow its banks, causing damage worth tens of millions of dollars.

In the hard-hit Rock Springs neighborhood, trash still lines the streets and many residents have been unable to return to their homes. 

The water district, which manages the creek and reservoir, accused the city of San Jose for failing to heed its warnings and evacuate residents in a timely manner.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo acknowledged the city's late response, but said his staff was relying on flood data from the water district, which he claims contained incorrect information.

Victims, however, want officials to stop pointing fingers at each other and instead focus on their jobs.

"I don’t know if they’ll do the right thing," Annalisa Wilson said. "They didn’t do the right thing before the flood. They haven’t been doing the right thing during … the recovery process." 

San Jose officials said that the City Attorney's Office is reviewing the claims, which they received on Wednesday. The water district said it is putting together a statement, while county officials did not respond to NBC Bay Area's request for comment.

Hawes is holding two clinics in San Jose to help other flood victims determine if they are eligible to file a similar claim. The first will be July 15 at the Roosevelt Center and the second on July 22 at the Vietnamese Community Center. The deadline to file a claim is Aug. 18. 

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