South Bay

PG&E Shutoffs Postpone San Jose’s Winter Preparedness Exercises

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The city of San Jose says it had to postpone two multi-agency exercises, including a winter flooding readiness program, so it could prepare for the PG&E blackouts.

Planning for the blackouts meant the city and Valley Water had to postpone their annual winter readiness exercises. One scheduled for last week had to be moved to January.

"We all have our roles to play when dealing with emergencies," said Alexander Gordon, emergency services coordinator for Valley Water. "The more often we get together and practice our role in communicating and coordinating, the better it is when the actual emergencies come, so we don’t have to figure it out as we go."

Those exercises are critical for preventing what happened nearly three years ago along San Jose's 19th Street. Things seem back to normal in the area today, but it was a much different picture then, as the area was flooded from overflowing Coyote Creek.

It’s still vivid for pastor Scott Wagers.

"Yeah, it was really scary," he said. "I was shocked that that the water came up into these neighborhoods."

Using lessons learned from that disaster, the city and water district began collaborating on better preparedness and response methods. They now train year-round.

"These joint exercises and the training are very important," Gordon said.
Flood victims agree that anything that prevents a repeat of the flood is crucial.

Then came the PG&E blackouts, and that threw a wrench in the agencies' plans.

"You can’t multitask?" Wagers said. "You have to take care of both things."

Flood victims say everyone’s lucky another 100-year flood didn’t hit before the exercises. The reservoir levels currently are low, and creeks are well within their banks.

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