San Francisco

SF Neighborhood Braces For Rain, Possible Flooding

As rain arrived across the Bay Area on Wednesday evening, one San Francisco neighborhood was happy to see the city take extra measures to combat flooding.

Residents of the city's Bernal Heights neighborhood are frustrated with how the water pools up during moderate to heavy rainfall.

"In 2004, I lost my car because it was parked in my grandmother's garage, and the water level was 6 feet," neighbor Donna Marie Monsorata said.

She and and a long list of others over the past few years have had to resort to legal action to get the city's attention.

"So the city is breaking its promise on solving and handling the claims quickly and efficiently," attorney Mark Epstein said.

Damage claims are part of a never-ending problem in several hot spots around the city from Bernal Heights to the Mission.

One resident's property at 17th and Folsom is on the list of most flood-prone areas in the city. The problem is drainage lines. The sewage and storm drains share the same pipes, and when they flood, the water carries a messy sludge with a disgusting smell.

"So when there's a heavy rain, it bursts out of the manholes here," said Malcolm Davis. "So we get polluted water that will sometimes flow into the building."

Businesses and residents have been forced to install their own barriers to hold off water when such flooding occurs, as it did two years ago.

On Tuesday, city crews were working to clear storm drains at 17th and Folsom. They also applied a new tactic: using barricades. Workers filled them with water to make them heavy, and the the flood barrier system is supposed to hold the water back.

"We're only doing it in the 17th and Folsom area because that's a hot spot for flooding," said Jean Walsh of SF Water.

The system was used in March, and people who work in the area said it appeared to be effective.

Many residents have requested an overhaul of every underground storm water pipe to stop flooding, and the city says repairs are in motion.

As part of a grant program, the city also is willing to pay residents up to $30,000 if they make improvements to prevent flooding.

The storm is expected to continue in earnest from Thursday into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

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